Starting a VA Claim in Philippines
You can apply for VA benefits from any location in the world, regardless of where you currently live. You can use the VA’s website to apply or use the services of a Veterans Service Organization (VSO).
To get started, you need to complete VA Form 21-526EZ or apply online through the VA eBenefits portal. You can also submit VA Forms 21-4142 and 21-4142a if you want the VA to assist in gathering medical evidence on your behalf. Additional forms that you may need to submit include forms for PTSD (0781 or 0781a) and TDIU (21-8940 and 21-4192). 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 generally take several months to process, although they can be expedited for certain reasons, including terminal illness, Veteran age over 75, homelessness, or 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. Once set, the effective date will not change regardless of how long it takes to fully settle a claim, which can take years in some cases. The importance of the effective date is that the Veteran should receive back pay at the monthly rate from the day the claim is granted 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 example, if you have one year to file a notice of disagreement but wait too long to do so, you may be forced to reopen your claim, leading to a new effective date. One reason that Veterans fight so hard to appeal VA decisions is to keep the effective date in place and receive all the compensation for their disabilities that they earned. See below for additional information about appealing VA decisions in the Philippines.
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 an initial claim for PTSD submitted years later.