Starting a VA Claim in Oklahoma
The process of applying for disability benefits can begin from any location in the country, regardless of where you live or where you served. You can use the VA’s website to apply or get help from a local VSO (Veterans Service Organization). Because we cannot help with filing an initial claim, we often suggest Veterans get the help of a VSO when they file their initial claim.
To get started, you need to complete VA Form 21-526EZ or apply online through the VA eBenefits portal. If you want the VA to collect medical evidence on your behalf, you must also complete VA Forms 21-4142 and 21-4142a. Other relevant forms include VA Form 21-0781 or 21-0781a for PTSD claims, and VA Form 21-8940 and 21-4192 for Individual Unemployability (TDIU). The forms must be signed and dated, packaged with any evidence you wish for the VA to consider, and either mailed to the VA Evidence Intake Center in Janesville, Wisconsin, or faxed to the VA at the number listed on the form.
Initial claims can take a long time to process, although they can be expedited for certain reasons, including:
- Terminal illness
- Veteran over 75 years of age
- Financial hardship
It is a good idea to put in an initial claim as soon as possible to set an early effective date for your claim. The effective date remains in place regardless of how long it takes to fully settle a claim, which can take years in certain situations. The importance of the effective date is that the Veteran is entitled to back pay at the monthly rate they are entitled to from the final decision date all the way back to the effective date.
You should also know that the effective date can be lost if you don’t maintain appeals for your claims. For example, if you have one year to file a notice of disagreement but miss the deadline, you may be forced to reopen your claim, resulting in a new effective date. One reason that Veterans fight so hard to appeal VA decisions is to keep the effective date in place and get all the disability compensation they are entitled to. The effective date for each disability claim is independent so an earlier effective date for a shoulder claim will usually not apply to an initial claim for PTSD submitted years later. See below for additional information about appealing VA decisions in Oklahoma.