Starting a VA Claim in Iowa
A VA disability claim can be initiated from anywhere in the world, regardless of where you served. You can use the VA’s website to apply or use the services of a local Veterans Service Organization (VSO).
To get started, you need to complete VA Form 21-526EZ or apply online through the VA eBenefits portal. You may need to submit additional forms based on your individual circumstances. Additional forms that you may need to submit include forms for PTSD (0781 or 0781a) and TDIU (21-8940 and 21-4192). Once completed, these forms can be submitted to the VA.
Initial claims can take a long time to process, although they can be expedited for certain reasons, including terminal illness, Veterans over 75 years of age, homelessness, or financial hardship.
It is a good idea to put in an initial claim as soon as possible to establish an early effective date. The effective date remains in place regardless of how long it takes to fully adjudicate a claim, which may last several years depending on the individual claims you are filing. The importance of the effective date is that the Veteran is entitled to back pay. They will receive the back pay at the monthly rate they are entitled to, extending from the final decision date all the way back to the effective date.
It is important to keep in mind that the effective date can be lost if you don’t maintain appeals for your claims. For instance, if you have 90 days to file a VAF-9 but wait too long to do so, you may have to reopen your claim resulting in a new effective date. This is one reason why it is so important to appeal decisions thoroughly, to keep the effective date in place and receive all the compensation for the disabilities you have. See below for additional information about appealing VA decisions in Iowa.
Each individual disability claim has its own effective date based on when it was first claimed, so an earlier effective date for a shoulder claim will usually not apply to a gastrointestinal claim initially filed years later.