Organize And Read Your Records
Once you assemble your medical record, then read it!
Youll be surprised what youve forgotten over the years, and you need to understand the chronology of any illness or injury. Your years of perspective might discover triggers or related events. You might need to find additional records that help document when it happened and where you were.
If youre missing critical information, then consult with your VSO or ask a veterans disability forum. You might have to go through mission reports, command histories, or even access classified documents that youre not cleared to read anymore. Another approach is the buddy statement of people who witnessed events or symptoms.
If your medical record is not merely incomplete but inaccurate or just plain wrong, then figure out how to fix it. An exam by a different doctor might help reconstruct the series of events which led to your current condition. Maybe the VA can work with medical summaries from others who were there with you. If someone else was with you back when you sought medical advice, ask them to provide a buddy statement. Until you have the evidence, youre wasting your time with the VA.
I re-read every page of my medical record and tabbed some pages with Post-It notes of injuries, dates, and questions. The VSO didnt need that but it helped me answer his questions and the later questions from the exam doctors.
My military medical record is over 300 pages in an inch-high stack. My VSO considers that small and easy.
Working With An Accredited Representative
VA encourages individuals who are applying for disability compensation to work with an accredited representative or agent to assist them in completing Fully Developed Claim for submission through eBenefits. Being accredited means organizations and individuals must have VA permission to represent Veterans before the Department in their claims for VA benefits. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that Veterans have qualified and competent representation. These individuals receive specialized training in VA benefits law and procedure. You may search for an accredited representative in eBenefits on the Manage Your Representative for VA Claims page.
What A Pending Decision Implies
When the veterans benefits claims process has reached this phase, it means that all of the evidence provided meets the VSRs satisfaction. At this point, officials can make the decision to qualify and uphold the claim if justified. Officials make arrangements in the veterans compensation claims process to notify the veteran of the VSRs decision.
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Learn How To Submit The Claim
The VA disability claims process requires Veteran Affairs to supply the veteran with a confirmation of receipt of the claim packet, assuming the veteran filled out and submitted the VA forms correctly. Applicants who start the steps of the VA claims process online will receive instant confirmation upon submittal. The veterans benefits claims process is slower if the veteran sent the claim through regular mail, as it will take at least two weeks to process and send a letter of receipt to the veteran.
After You File Your Claim
OK, you’ve filed your claim, now you sit and wait. It can take months, but usually the VA will send you a letter when:
If you submitted a claim online you can check the VETS.GOV website for the status. If you filed through a Veteran’s Service Organization you can check your claim’s status through them..
The VA may have to contact the DoD for records or if they need more medical information, they may ask you to provide it. The VA may also schedule an examination for you to assess the disabilities you claimed. If the VA requires you to undergo a medical exam to support your claim be sure to show up for the appointment, or risk having your claim delayed by several months. The VA may schedule you for multiple medical appointments depending on how many or what type of disabilities you claim.
Other than attend scheduled examinations, you dont need to do anything else unless VA sends you a letter saying it needs more information.
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Gather Evidence Of Your Disability
Strong evidence is critical to a successful VA disability claim.
Some of the evidence your VA representative will review includes:;
- Medical records from private physicians related to your claimed condition. This includes test results, doctor reports, and X-rays.
- Records showing medical treatment youve received for the condition during your service period.
- Military personnel records that layout your claimed condition.
- Information about records that VA representatives can request from other federal facilities like medical centers and clinics.
Tips For Filing A Disability Claim
Filing a claim for compensation can be a very tedious task indeed. Even if you do complete the online version of the claim at VA’s VETS.GOV website you may find that it takes at least 30 minutes just to fill in all the blanks, gathering the required supporting documentation and submitting it to the VA can take much longer and be an exercise in frustration.
Here are a few pointers on how to make the process easier, and how to make sure you get everything right the first time, so you won’t have to do it all over again.
Programs For Homeless Veterans
VA’s specialized programs for homeless Veterans serve hundreds of thousands of homeless and at-risk Veterans each year. Independently and in collaboration with federal and community partners, VA programs provide Veterans with housing solutions, employment opportunities, health care, justice- and reentry-related services and more. Learn more about these programs at VA Programs for At-Risk Veterans and Their Families.
Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless can call or visit their local VA Medical Center or Community Resource and Referral Center where VA staff are ready to help. Many CRRCs offer free tax preparation services. VA and other organizations work together through neighborhood ;Stand Downs to help Veterans who are homeless. The IRS attends many Stand Down events and provide services such as help with IRS letters, notices and levies on wages or bank accounts as well as;free tax preparation. Also, the Taxpayer Advocate Service often attends to ensure that every Veteran is treated fairly.
Proving Eligibility In An Initial Veterans Disability Claim
It is not enough for a veteran to provide the VA with service and medical records and claim a disability in an initial benefits application. An original veterans disability claimmustmake the case that the veterans medical condition is due to military service and is disabling to a degree that qualifies for benefits.
As it examines benefit claims, the VA assesses and rates the extent of the veterans disability or disabilities in 10% increments from 0% to 100%. If the vet claims more than one disability, the VA develops a combined disability rating between 0% and 100% according to a VA formula calculated and set down in a table.
To qualify for veterans disability benefits, a former service members claim must show that he or she was not dishonorably discharged, and has at least one physical injury or illness or mental disorder that:
- Is rated by the VA system as 10% disabling or more if a physical disability.
- Makes the veteran unable to work for a living if a mental disorder.
The veteran must also prove that their disability is service-connected. The VA recognizes five categories of service connection for disabling injuries or illnesses. For many specific disabilities including for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or Certain Disabilities Associated With Gulf War Service there are additional, separate requirements for determining service connection.
The VA presumes that certain military veterans are eligible for disability benefits, including:
What Is A Veteran Services Officer
Many veterans opt to work with Veteran Service Officers with experience in filing VA disability claims. VSOs are often veterans themselves, sympathetic to the plight of the applicant. Compassionate and experienced, a VSO can be a real ally in your quest for benefits.;;
Working with a VSO can also help ensure a claim is not lost in the shuffle. Because the claims process can be so lengthy, it can be tough for veterans to remain as vigilant as necessary throughout the many months it takes to be processed. A VSO, however, can provide you with regular updates and ensure you that your claim is indeed being handled.
VSOs are specially trained and certified by the VA, and always provide their services on VA disability claims free-of-charge.
What Evidence Should I Submit With My Claim
You must submit documentation that proves that your conditions meet the requirements for service-connection; all medical records that include information on the diagnosis, treatment, and current state of your conditions, including the information necessary to properly rate the conditions; and your DD Form 214 and forms from your medical separation, if any. Additional evidence, like NEXUS Letters and buddy statements may be needed in some cases.
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How To Apply For Veterans Disability
Here are several ways to apply for disability compensation.
- You can apply online for veterans disability benefits using the Veterans On-Line Application .
- To apply by mail, complete Application for Veterans Compensation and/or Pension, which can be found at the VA Forms Website, and send it to your local VA office.
- You can apply by phone by calling 800-827-1000. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call the TDD line at 800-829-4833. If you live outside the U.S., call 412-395-6272.
- You can visit your local VA office .
Starting The Va Disability Claim Process
Dont try this at home, kids seek professional help before its too late.
Find a Veterans Service Organization and use a Veteran Service Officer. If youre a member of a veterans group then start there. If you dont have a clue preference then use the one near your local VA clinic. Other VSOs are sponsored by the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans, MOAA, and other veterans groups. You dont have to be a member of the group to use their VSO services, although theyd certainly appreciate it. Their job is to help you research, assemble, and file your claim, and theyre paid from other funds.
The VSO will show you how to navigate the VA bureaucracy. If you dont enjoy dealing with bureaucracy then get more help now from your spouse or a friend and have them accompany you through the entire process. Submitting the claim is hard, and if youre in pain then youll quickly get discouraged and give up. If youre the spouse for a veteran, then help them get through the process because someday you may end up having to upgrade their disability rating. When you help the veteran through the claim then youll also learn more about caregiver support and benefits.
There are four components to prove in a VA disability claim, and one of them is that the service-connected condition persists after you leave the service. This means that your post-military medical records should show that youve regularly sought advice and treatment for whatever conditions youre claiming.
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Discover The Forms Required For Disability Compensation
Veterans disability compensation forms vary with the type of claim being made. The VA disability benefits form 21-526 is applicable to use when applying for disability compensation for injury-related and directly connected to military service. This same veterans disability compensation form is also for those who are older than 65 years of age and are petitioning for a pension based on a disability. However, those applicants must only complete the portions of form 21-526 that pertain to the benefit. For example, those applying for compensation would skip VII-VIII as well as IX-X, whereas those applying for veterans disability compensation as a pension will fill it out completely. Applicants can learn more about filling out the VA application for compensation correctly or obtain assistance with completing the application by visiting or phoning the local VA.
The veterans disability compensation forms must be submitted in a certain order, as well. Here is a listing of the required paperwork and forms in order:
- VA Form 21-526
- VA Form 21-526EZ
- VA Form 21-534EZ
- VA Form 28-1900
- VA Form 9
Applicants,who want to know how to prepare for the appeal process, should to make copies of the veterans disability compensation forms before submitting them so that if any discrepancy should occur there are backup copies. Most veterans disability compensation forms are completed within four or five months, with slightly more than 30 percent of those taking longer due to unforeseen circumstances.
Think About Your Va Disability Rating Appeal Like A Lawyer
Before you file a VA Disability rating appeal, dissect your claim like a VA Disability compensation lawyer would. Dont just submit your VA Disability rating appeal mindlessly without a legal strategy.
First, think about your claim are you filing a claim because you were denied service-connection or were you rated too low? File your VA Disability rating appeal to execute the legal strategy you are going to follow. If you were denied service-connection, you are going to want to show the VA why your disability is related to your service. If you were rated too low, you are going to want to show the VA how your disabilities are worse than your rating.
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Filing A Claim For Secondary Service Connection
Filing a claim for secondary service connection involves the same process as filing any claim for service connection.; Specifically, veterans will fill out and submit VA Form 21-526 an original claim for service connection.; Veterans may do so online using the eBenefits portal, in person at their local Regional Office, or with help from a veterans advocate.; Importantly, there is certain evidence that veterans should include with their claims for secondary service connection .
Veterans will need to demonstrate two things to VA to be granted service connection for a secondary condition:
- A diagnosis for your secondary condition; and
- Medical evidence showing the link between your service-connected condition and secondary condition.
Free Tax Preparation Services
Each year, millions of people have their taxes prepared for free by IRS-certified volunteers. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs have helped people for more than 40 years. Over;1.3million;free tax returns were prepared for Veterans since the inception of the MOU at nearly 8,000 free tax preparation sites across the country. Here are some details about VITA and TCE:
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Help With Your Va Disability Claim
If you need assistance with your disability claim, you can visit your local VA office. You may also get help from a disability lawyer. An experienced disability benefits attorney can review your claim, gather vital evidence, and prepare the necessary paperwork to help you receive the compensation you deserve. If youve been injured in service to your country, we can assist you with your VA benefits claim. Call us today or complete the contact form on this page.
Disability Pension Corrective Payment
If you received a benefit from VAC between 2003 and 2010 and it was under the Pension Act, you may receive a corrective payment because of a discrepancy in our calculations. Most payments are automatic, however, Please contact us at if:
- You no longer receive a benefit from VAC, or
- You represent the estate of a deceased recipient.
If you are legally entitled to inherit assets from the estate of a deceased recipient, you may apply to receive a corrective payment if you are eligible.
What Happens After I File My Disability Claim
Once you file a claim with the VA, you will be required to take a Compensation & Pension exam. This examination happens in-house at your regional VA office and is administered by a VA-affiliated physician. The results of your C&P exam play a key role in the VAs evaluation of your claim.
If your VA C&P exam does not present the VA with enough evidence to support your claim, your application to receive benefits will most likely be denied or deferred. If your claim is deferred, it typically means that the VA needs additional evidence or documentation from you so that they can make an informed decision regarding your claim.;
You can stay up-to-date on your claims status by visiting the VA website. That way, youll be aware of; any messages from your regional VA office regarding your claim. Sometimes, the VA will request additional documentation from you before they can move forward with their decision. To keep your claim from getting stuck midway through the decision-making process, make sure to keep tabs on your claim status from this page.