Veterans’ disability compensation provides tax-free compensation to former United States military members who suffer from a disability which can be linked to their active duty service. To receive these benefits, the first step is to file a claim with VA either online or through the mail. Before filing a veteran disability claim, it is necessary to understand the claims process and how VA will evaluate your case in order to give your application the best chance of approval.
Although attorneys do not typically assist veterans with their initial application for veterans, under the Appeals Modernization Act they may now be involved with Supplemental Claims as well as with appeals. In any case, we hope that this information is helpful to you in filing a claim with VA for disability compensation.
The veterans’ disability compensation program provides monthly benefits to veterans who suffer from a disability which can be linked to some event, injury, illness, or exposure which happened on active duty. The event from service may be a physical condition that clearly began in service, such as blindness or a fracture, a disease that developed many years following service, or mental health symptoms such as PTSD or severe anxiety.
In addition to showing that you suffer from a current disability which can be linked to some incident in service, VA requires that you show veteran status for the purposes of VA compensation. This means you may need to show that you meet some minimum service requirement, depending on the time frame that you were on active duty, and that you received a discharge from service that was other than Dishonorable.
The VA offers applicants a variety of methods through which to file a claim, the most efficient of which is online through their eBenefits portal. Claimants also have the option to file a claim through the mail using VA Form 21-526EZ, or by visiting with someone at their local VA Regional Office. The application requires detailed and accurate information about the applicant, their time in the military, their medical conditions, and their dependents.
In order to show that you meet VA’s definition of veteran status, a copy of your DD-214 is usually enough. A discharge other than Dishonorable is required, and sometimes a minimum service requirement must be met.
Next, you should include information regarding the disability or disabilities for which you are seeking entitlement to service connection. Providing copies of your medical records or informing VA where they can obtain them is key in filing a veteran disability claim. If you have been treated at a VA Medical Center or other VA medical facility, simply identifying the name and dates you were treated will allow VA to associate those records with your file.
Finally, applicants should be sure to include information about how their disability is related to their active duty military service. Although it is not necessary to obtain a medical nexus opinion for every condition, you should at least provide VA with some basic information as to why you feel there is a connection to service for each condition you claim.
Filing a veteran disability claim for benefits can be confusing and frustrating. The rules concerning who qualifies for these benefits are complex, and the amount of evidence required for a successful application or appeal can be daunting.
In the past, VA did not allow attorneys to be involved until the appeal process had already been initiated. The Appeals Modernization Act has updated VA’s rules concerning legal representation, and VA-accredited attorneys can now help in more ways than before. Although you must still file your initial claim without legal assistance, VetLaw’s experienced team is now able to assist you with both appeals of all VA decisions as well as in filing a Supplemental Claim, no matter how long it has been since you first applied for benefits. Contact us today for a free case review.