VA Disability Claim

Topics:
VA Disability Claim
Preparing to Submit a VA Disability Claim
Submitting a VA Disability Claim

 


VA Disability Claim

A VA Disability Claim is what the VA calls an application for VA Disability. A service member will submit a VA Disability Claim during Step 2 of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) when he is being separated from the military for medical reasons. Even if he doesn’t go through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System, however, a veteran can still submit a VA Disability Claim at any time.

Once the VA Disability Claim is submitted, the veteran will undergo the C&P Exams. The VA's Rating Authorities will then consider all the information they received from the VA Disability Claim and the C&P exam and assign a VA Disability Rating to each of the veteran’s service-connected medical conditions.

If a condition is not included on the VA Disability Claim, another VA Disability Claim can be submitted for that additional condition at any time. A veteran can only submit one VA Disability Claim for each condition, however, so if the veteran disagrees with the VA’s Rating Decision, they should submit an appeal, not another VA Disability Claim. Similarly, if the condition has worsened and the veteran wants to apply for an increased evaluation, if the veteran wants to reopen a claim for a disability that has been denied, or if the veteran wants to apply for secondary conditions, VA Form 21-526b is used instead of a VA Disability Claim.

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Preparing to Submit a VA Disability Claim

The VA Disability Process takes time, but you can help it along by submitting a clear and complete VA Disability Claim.

To do so, first gather all the evidence the VA needs in order to assign a VA Disability Rating to each of your conditions. You can Find Your Conditions on our site to figure out what information is needed to rate your conditions. This evidence should include all your military and civilian medical records regarding your conditions and any supporting evidence like a commander’s statement. Submitting sufficient medical evidence with your VA Disability Claim is essential. 

You’ll also need to submit your Discharge DD Form 214, and, if you already went through the DoD Disability Process, the official documents from your Medical Evaluation Board and Physical Evaluation Board. (This step shouldn’t really be necessary anymore, however, since the new Integrated Disability Evaluation System combines the DoD Disability Process with the VA Disability Process.)

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary evidence, you’re ready to submit your VA Disability Claim.

It is essential that you submit your initial VA Disability Claim within one year of your date of separation from the military in order for you to qualify to receive full VA Disability Back Pay to your discharge date. If your application is submitted after the 1-year mark, you will lose this pay. The VA, however, has started a new program to help protect you against this loss. If it is taking you longer to compile all your evidence to submit along with your VA Disability Claim, you can still qualify for full back pay as long as you file VA Form 21-0966, Intent to File a Claim, before the 1-year mark.

Similarly, as long as you submit your VA Disability Claim within that 1-year mark, all of your conditions will automatically be assumed service-connected (unless there is clear evidence that they aren’t). If, however, the application is submitted after the year, then thorough evidence will also have to be submitted to prove that all the conditions were indeed caused by service.

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Submitting a VA Disability Claim

You can submit your VA Disability Claim in one of two ways.  

You can use the VA's new eBenefits program for submitting your VA Disability Claim online

-OR-

You can submit VA Form 21-526EZ via mail or in person at your local VA office. Make sure to pay close attention to all directions on the form so that you can get it submitted correctly the first time. 

If you have not yet separated from the military, you cannot sumbit a VA Disability Claim unless you are within 180 days of your discharge date. If you are separating from the military because of your medical conditions, you will go through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System process, and you will be guided by your PEBLO to submit your VA Disability Claim as part of the process. 

There are a few more forms that are submitted along with the VA Form 21-526EZ if the following circumstances apply:  

If you want to claim dependents, also submit VA Form 21-686c. If the dependents are between the ages of 18 and 23 and in school, also submit VA Form 21-674.

If you are claiming PTSD, submit VA Form 21-0781, unless the PTSD was caused by personal assault (meaning military sexual trauma, rape, etc.). Then submit VA Form 21-0781a.

If you are claiming Unemployability, also submit both VA Form 21-8940 and VA Form 21-4192.

If your home has been adapted or needs to be adapted because of your disability, you can apply for the Specially Adapted Housing program using VA Form 26-4555. Similarly, if your car needs adaptation, you can submit VA Form 21-4502 for Auto Allowance.

If you or your spouse require at-home Aid and Attendance, submit VA Form 21-2680. If you or your spouse require Aid and Attendance in a nursing home, submit VA Form 21-0779.

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