Last week’s article in The Island News on veterans’ benefits gave an overview of the four types of VA Compensation Benefits. This week’s article is part two of that article series and will cover in detail VA Disability Compensation.
Make sure you use a VA-Accredited Veterans Service Officer (VSO), a VA-Accredited Attorney, or VA-Accredited Claims Agent to help you file a claim for Disability Compensation.
According to the VA Disability Compensation webpage (https://www.va.gov/disability/), VA disability compensation (pay) offers a monthly tax-free payment to veterans who got sick or injured while serving in the military and to veterans whose service made an existing condition worse. Veterans may qualify for VA disability benefits for physical conditions (like a chronic illness or injury) and mental health conditions (like PTSD) that developed before, during, or after service.
Last week’s article covered the eligibility requirements for VA Disability Benefits. Read about eligibility in last week’s article and at https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/.
How can a veteran file a VA Disability Claim?
Follow these steps.
STEP 1: Read about how to file a claim at https://www.va.gov/disability/how-to-file-claim/.
STEP 2: Read the information on the VA’s Intent To File A VA Claim page at http://bit.ly/3Rzq8Qk.
STEP 3: Submit an Intent to File. When a veteran does this, they may be able to get retroactive payments (compensation that starts at a point in the past). This is because the veteran’s claim start date for benefits will be earlier than the date the veteran files their claim.
Veterans can submit their Intent to File either by starting their disability application online or if a veteran plans to file a claim by mail or in person for disability, pension, or DIC benefits and they want to notify the VA of their intent to file, they must call the VA or submit a separate form. The options for submitting the form include:
Veterans can call the VA at 800-827-1000 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Veterans can submit an Intent to File a Claim for Compensation and/or Pension, or Survivors Pension and/or DIC (VA Form 21-0966). Veterans can download the form at http://bit.ly/3W9mzlP. Mail the form to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Claims Intake Center, PO Box 4444, Janesville, WI 53547-4444.
Veterans can turn in their Intent to File form to a VA regional office near them or they can get help from a trained professional called a VA-accredited representative. Veterans can find the nearest VA Regional Office at http://bit.ly/3BpjKET. Read about and find a VA-accredited Representative (Veterans Service Officer “VSO”, Lawyer, and Claims Agent) at http://bit.ly/3enmCdG. You can find a list of each SC County Veterans Services Offices at http://bit.ly/3qbLVSL.
Veterans have one year after submitting an Intent to File Form to file the claim or the Intent to File expires.
STEP 4: Gather any evidence (supporting documents) you will need to submit to the VA when you file your claim. That evidence might include a copy of your DD214, your military service records, your military medical records, your VA medical records, your civilian medical records, accident report, incident report, Officer or Enlisted Evaluation Report, Line of Duty Investigation, photographs, lay (buddy) witness statements, and other documents.
Read everything at the VA’s Evidence Needed For Your Disability Claim information site at http://bit.ly/3w6YGAN. Evidence is complicated and essential to a successful claim!
STEP 5: Be certain that your claim is filled out completely and that you have all supporting documents ready to send along with your claim. This will help the VA to quickly process your claim. Read about fully developed claims at http://bit.ly/3CTtFV0.
STEP 6: Find out if additional forms are required to be turned in with your claim. Read carefully the information on the VA’s File Additional Forms For Your Disability Claim page at http://bit.ly/3XgpDxU. Fill out the forms needed to be submitted.
STEP 7: With the help of a VSO, file your claim. You can file your disability compensation claim online at http://bit.ly/3wYGMRJ. A veteran can also file a VA Disability Compensation Claim:
BY MAIL – By mail using an Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits (VA Form 21-526EZ). Read about and download VA Form 21-526EZ at http://bit.ly/3xtZZLp. Print the form, fill it out, and send it to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Claims Intake Center, P.O. Box 4444, Janesville, Wis. 53547-4444
IN-PERSON: Bring your application to a VA Regional Office near you. Find your nearest VA Regional Office at http://bit.ly/3BpjKET.
WITH THE HELP OF A VA-TRAINED PROFESSIONAL: Veterans can (and should) work with a trained professional called an accredited representative (VSO, Lawyer, or Claims Agent) to get help filing a claim for disability compensation. Read about and find a VA-Trained and Accredited VSO, Attorney, or Claims Agent at http://bit.ly/3enmCdG.
SC County VSOs are trained by the VA, the State of SC Department of Veteran Affairs, and the American Legion (or another Veterans Service Organization like the DAV, PAV, VFW, etc.).
How long does it take the VA to make a decision?
Currently, it is taking about 110 days.
How can I find out what happens after a veteran submits a VA Disability Claim?
Read the information on the VA’s web page http://bit.ly/3H5ClKq. Veterans do not need to do anything unless the VA sends them a letter asking for more information. If the VA schedules any exams for you, be sure not to miss them. You can check the status of your claim online. The timeline you see there may vary based on how complex your claim is.
The VA’s web page https://bit.ly/3H5ClKq is a must-read for all veterans submitting claims.
Read more about filing disability claims at:
You can read all of The Island News’ past articles on veterans’ benefits by Larry Dandridge in the archived past issues of the newspaper at www.yourislandnews.com.
Larry Dandridge is a Vietnam War wounded warrior, disabled veteran, ex-Enlisted Infantryman, ex-Warrant Officer Pilot, and retired Lt. Colonel. He is a past Veterans Service Officer, a Patient Adviser at the RHJ VA Hospital, the Fisher House Charleston Good Will Ambassador, and the VP for Veteran Affairs for the local Army Association Chapter. Larry is the author of the award-winning book Blades of Thunder and a contributing freelance writer with the Island News. Contact him at LDandridge@earthlink.net or 843-276-7164.