Filing a VA Disability Claim

Military veterans who were injured or suffered from a disease while on active duty are eligible to receive disability compensation. If a condition was made worse by military service benefits might also be available.

To be eligible for veteran’s disability compensation, a discharge from duty must be for some reason other than dishonorable conditions. The benefits are tax-free and vary depending on the severity of the disability. Additional monthly benefits are available in some cases, such as loss of limb or dependent children.

Prior to filing a VA disability claim application, a veteran’s disability lawyer can review an initial application, explain what evidence, if any, should be attached to the filing and assist with the application process. Consulting an attorney before filing a VA disability claim can sometimes avoid a denial.

Once the VA receives the application it will send you a letter. The letter may include a medical release form, so the VA can obtain medical records from your doctor or clinic. Generally any forms need to be completed as quickly as possible or within one month. Sending medical records with the initial application may speed the process.

The VA assigns a Rating Veterans Service Representative to decide your claim. The VA representative may ask you to complete a medical examination. During the exam, a medical professional will evaluate you for the conditions listed on your application. If multiple conditions are listed the exam can be lengthy. A psychiatric evaluation and/or additional tests may also be needed.

Once the exam is complete, the records are forwarded to the VA Regional Office. A VA rep then makes a disability rating decision.

The VA will send its decision along with its findings based on the evidence in the record. The amount of the monthly benefits will be listed, if benefits are granted. Payments usually start soon after you get the decision. However, in cases where benefits are not granted, or there was an error in the decision, you may appeal to the Board of Veteran’s Appeals to increase your benefits.

Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “Understanding the Disability Claims Process.”