Veterans who plan on filing a VA claim for disability benefits within the next year should let the VA know by submitting a letter of intent to file. This allows the Veteran to gather supporting evidence for their claim while also setting an early effective date.
An intent to file is a notification to the Veteran’s Administration (VA) that a claimant is planning on filing an application for compensation within the next year. The intent to file a claim is not claim-specific. VA Form 21-0966 only asks the claimant to select the general benefit(s) (compensation and/or pension) the claimant intends to file. The VA recognizes three ways for claimants to submit an intent to file:
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The first way to submit an intent to file can be accomplished by completing and submitting a VA Form 21-0966, which can be found here: https://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-0966-ARE.pdf
Claimants with access to http://www.ebenefits.va.gov can submit an intent to file simply by starting the application for compensation. To ensure you reach the correct point, a Veteran must fill out application information until application informs the applicant that an 0966 intent to file has been submitted. Further, the claimant must ensure that the initiated application is saved to confirm an intent to file was submitted. To get to this point in the electronic application, the claimant needs to complete the biographical information used to identify the claimant.
Finally, the VA recognizes an oral communication of intent to file by a claimant to a designated VA personnel. This option of intent to file requires the VA employee to collect claimant’s biographical information, document the conversation, and document the date the VA received the claimant’s intent to file a claim in the claimant’s records.
It is important to note that an intent to file is not a completed claim for compensation. Thus, the only action the VA may take on an intent to file is to notify the claimant of the information necessary to complete the appropriate application form prescribed by the VA. Further, if the claimant does not file a completed claim for compensation within one year of the intent to file, the VA has no authority to accept the intent to file as the date of a completed claim.
So long as the VA receives a complete application within one year of receipt of the intent to file a claim, the VA considers the date the intent to file was received as the date the complete application was received. This means entitlement to an earlier effective date and more retroactive pay. For example, if the VA receives a valid intent to file on January 1, 2020, and the completed application on July 31, 2020, the VA will consider January 1, 2020, as the completed application date. This means if the claimant is granted benefits, the effective date of that benefit should be January 1, 2020, and the Veteran will receive a larger retroactive payment (back pay).
The VA Form 21-0966 indicates a respondent burden of 15 minutes for an intent to file. Yet, the information required to complete the form is common personal identifying information and contact information. Most respondents can complete the form in less than 5 minutes. The information required to complete the VA Form 21-0966 includes:
The form must be faxed or mailed to the VA. Completing an intent to file a claim on www.ebenefits.va.gov is similarly brief.
Berry Law is America’s Veterans Law Firm, and your fire support team to battle the VA. If you need assistance with your VA disability claim, contact the battle-tested lawyers at Berry Law. Berry Law features attorneys that served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, and they are dedicated to helping fellow servicemembers in their fight for disability benefits. Contact Berry Law today to receive a free case evaluation.
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