VA Disability Process


The Claim
The C&P Exam
The Rating Decision
After the VA Disability Process
Preparing to Start the VA Disability Process
VA Disability Process

When a service member who is separating from the military or a veteran has a service-connected medical condition, they can begin the VA Disability Process. If the service member is being separated from the military because of their medical condition, then the VA Disability Process begins automatically as part of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System. If, however, a service member is not separated for medical reasons or is already separated, they can begin the VA Disability Process at any time by submitting a VA Disability Claim.

The goal of the VA Disability Process is to determine (1) if a Disabled Veteran’s conditions qualify for VA Disability and (2) the exact amount of VA Disability Benefits they will receive for the qualifying conditions. For a condition to qualify during the VA Disability Process, it must be service-connected.

The Claim

To begin the VA Disability Process, a veteran must prepare and submit a VA Disability Claim. The claim must include every condition the veteran wants considered for benefits and all the supporting evidence necessary to prove service-connection for each condition as well as the evidence needed to support the VA Disability Rating requirements.

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The C&P Exam

After the VA Disability Claim is submitted, the VA Disability Process continues with the C&P Exam. The VA will contact the veteran to schedule this exam(s). At this point in the VA Disability Process, a physician examines the veteran and records the nature and severity of their conditions.

The results of the C&P Exam are then passed on to the next step in the VA Disability Process, the Rating Decision.

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The Rating Decision

The Rating Decision is the final step in the VA Disability Process.

After the C&P Exam, the claim is passed on to one of the VA’s Rating Authorities. These are individual adjudicators whose job it is (1) to determine if each condition is service-connected, (2) to assign a VA Disability Rating to each of the service-connected conditions using the laws of the VASRD, and (3) to determine if the veteran qualifies for Special Monthly Compensation.

Once each condition has a rating, the ratings are combined using VA Math to get the Total Combined Rating. This combined rating is then used to determine the exact amount of VA Disability Benefits the veteran will receive at the end of the VA Disability Process. Our VA Disability Chart outlines all the current monetary compensation amounts for each rating.

Once the adjudicator makes a Rating Decision on the case, the VA Disability Process ends.

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After the VA Disability Process

Once the VA Disability Process ends, the veteran will begin receiving their VA Disability Benefits.

VA Disability can be adjusted over time as the veteran’s conditions worsen or improve. All the veteran needs to do to have their ratings updated is to submit a new claim for their conditions and check the box for Increased Evaluation.

After the VA Disability Process is over, if the veteran does not agree with the Rating Decision, they can submit an appeal to have their case reviewed by a higher authority.

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Preparing to Start the VA Disability Process

To ensure that your VA Disability Process goes smoothly and that your VA Disability is correctly determined, it is vital that you carefully prepare.

The number one most important thing to do to prepare for the VA Disability Process is to carefully gather all the essential evidence to support your case. The Rating Decision is made solely on the evidence that is submitted at the start of the VA Disability Process and on the results of the C&P Exam.

Gather the following documents to submit along with your VA Disability Claim:

  • Complete medical evidence of your conditions, including all military and civilian medical records. Not every medical record you have needs to be submitted, but you definitely need to submit the ones that prove that your condition is service-connected and that provide the information necessary to rate your condition. You can Find Your Condition on our site to find out what information is needed to rate the condition.
  • Commander’s Statements and other supporting evidence. A commander’s statement should be submitted by your commander to the MEB at the start of your DoD Disability Process. This letter should contain valuable evidence about how your conditions affected your ability to do your job, and can be valuable in the VA Disability Process as well.
  • The official documents from the Medical Evaluation Board and the Physical Evaluation Board. The VA needs to know the outcome of your DoD Disability case, if you had one. If not, don’t worry about this.
  • Your Discharge Orders, DD Form 214. You must be officially separated from the military before you can receive VA Disability, and if you start the VA Disability Process within 1 year of your separation date, you qualify for VA Disability Back Pay.

Never submit the original of any of these documents! Only submit COPIES! These documents are the backbone of your disability case, and you need to make sure you always have them at your fingertips.

If you properly prepare for your VA Disability Process, you will have done all you can to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible.

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What is the VA Disability Process?

The VA Disability Process contains the steps needed for a disabled veteran to receive their disability benefits. The process begins with the preparation of a claim and ends once the VA publishes their Rating Decision.

What is VA Disability?

VA Disability is a system of benefits offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs for American veterans who have medical conditions caused by or related to their military service.

Am I eligible for VA Disability?

You are eligible for disability benefits from the VA if you have one or more medical conditions caused by your military service. You must be able to show proof of service-connection for each condition.

How do I apply for VA Disability?

To apply, submit a VA Disability Claim along with evidence of service-connection and all medical records regarding the conditions on the claim.

If I qualify, what benefits will I receive?

If you qualify for benefits, you will receive a monthly payment as well as full medical care from the VA for the qualifying conditions.

How long does it take to receive my disability benefits?

Brand new claims usually take 3-6 months to process. Once processed, you will start receiving payments in 1-3 months.

How much money will I get monthly?

The exact amount you receive monthly will depend on your overall rating and if you have any dependents. You can find the VA's current rates on our VA Disability Chart page.

I've been out of the military for many years. Can I still go through the VA Disability Process?

Absolutely. The VA will grant benefits to any veteran with a medical condition caused by military service, no matter how long they've been out of the military. When you submit your claim, you will be required to provide proof of service-connection.

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