Starting a VA Claim in Wyoming
Getting started with a VA disability claim can begin from any location in the US, regardless of where you served.
You can apply directly online through the VA, or get free help from a local VSO (Veterans Service Organization), which are congressionally recognized to provide services to Veterans. Local VSOs in Wyoming.
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 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 important to start your claim early to establish an early effective date. The effective date remains in place regardless of how long it takes to fully settle a claim, which may last several years depending on the individual claims. The importance of the effective date is that the Veteran should receive back pay at the monthly rate they are entitled to reaching 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 wait too long to do so, you may be forced to reopen your claim leading to a new effective date. This is one reason it is so important to appeal decisions thoroughly, to keep the effective date in place and get all the compensation you are entitled to. See below for additional information about appealing VA decisions in Wyoming.
The effective date for each disability claim is independent so an early effective date for a claim based on knee pain will usually not apply to a gastrointestinal claim initially filed years later.