In 2017, 49% of all U.S. military veterans used at least one VA benefit. 76% of those were on VA Health Care or Disability Compensation. With a budget in the billions, there is no reason that you shouldn’t check your eligibility.
If you think you may be eligible for VA disability benefits, read on to find out how to file in this step-by-step guide.
Are You Eligible for VA Disability Benefits?
The first question you should ask yourself is if you are eligible for veterans’ disability benefits. Ask yourself the following:
- Did you serve active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty for training?
- Do you have a disability rating for a service-connected condition?
Both of these must be true. One of the following must also be true:
- You had an illness prior to service that was made worse by your service.
- You have a disability that is connected to your service that did not appear until after you ended your service.
- You got injured or became sick while serving.
Before you begin your application, gather evidence as to why you believe you are eligible for disabled veteran’s benefits. There are many different ways to support your claim. These might include:
- Private medical records that state your condition and how it has worsened.
- VA medical records that state your condition and how it has worsened.
- Statements from family, friends, employers, law enforcement, and so on that reflect knowledge about your condition and how it has worsened.
The VA may request that you provide additional forms or pieces of evidence to support your claim. They may also ask that you submit to an additional examination.
In addition, the VA will need your discharge papers (DD214).
As you apply for veterans’ disability benefits, you will need to understand how they will interpret your application. Based on the evidence you provide and their assessment, you will be assigned a disability rating.
This number will be a percentage from 0% to 100%. If you are already receiving the maximum percentage for your particular condition, you may not need to file again.
Filing online is an easy way to access the form from the comfort of your own home. This online form is equivalent to the VA Form 21-526EZ (Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits).
Remember that starting your application online serves as an intent to file. You will have one year to complete your application beginning on the day you open the form.
If you need help completing your application, you can contact your regional VA office. A counselor, an accredited representative, such as a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) will be able to assist you.
4. Wait for Assessment
The VA processes their claims in the order that they are filed. Wait time may vary depending on how many claims are being made at that time.
You will receive your decision in the mail after their review process is completed.
What if You Don’t Get Approved?
Sometimes the VA doesn’t make the process easy. If you feel like you have a legitimate claim that doesn’t get the approval you think it deserves, you can ask for help.
There are professionals who can help you appeal the decision for your VA disability benefits.
Get What You Deserve
Your service to this great nation should not go unnoticed. These services and benefits are in place to take care of you just as you took care of us. VA disability benefits are just one way that we as a nation can even begin to repay what you have done for us.
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