How to File VA Disability Claim for Veterans

How to File a VA Disability Claim
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If you’re a veteran who has suffered an injury, disability, or condition that was incurred or aggravated during your active military service, you may be eligible for disability compensation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, filing a claim for disability benefits is a complex legal process that requires submitting legal, military, and medical evidence to prove your eligibility. Here’s how to file VA disability claim for veterans.

The Importance of Working with a Veteran Service Officer

VSOs represent veterans, their dependents, and survivors through every stage of the claims process, including appeals. They are available in every county and several federally recognized tribes, and their services are provided free of charge. By working with a VSO, you can ensure that your claim is properly prepared and submitted, increasing your chances of a successful outcome.

Steps to Filing a VA Disability Claim

Step 1: Meet with a Veteran Service Officer

During this meeting, you’ll discuss your situation and whether you’re eligible for disability compensation. Your VSO will also help you gather the necessary evidence to support your claim.

Step 2: Obtain Evidence and File a Claim Through Your Local VSO

This may include VA medical records, private medical records, and supporting statements from family members, friends, or fellow service members. Your VSO will help you obtain this evidence and file your claim with the VA.

Step 3: Attend Your Compensation & Pension Exam

This exam is conducted by a VA medical professional who will evaluate your condition and provide an opinion on whether it’s related to your military service. It’s crucial that you attend this exam, as it can have a significant impact on the outcome of your claim.

Step 4: VA Rater Completes Record

Once your C&P exam is complete, a VA rater will review your entire claim file, including your medical records, supporting evidence, and the results of your C&P exam. The rater will then make a decision on your claim and assign a disability rating if your claim is approved.

Step 5: Meet With Your Veteran Service Officer

After the VA has made a decision on your claim, you should meet with your VSO to discuss the outcome. If your claim was denied or you disagree with the disability rating assigned, your VSO can help you explore your options for appealing the decision.

What if My Claim Is Denied?

If your claim for disability compensation is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision using the following three options:

Option 1: File a Supplemental Claim

If you have new and relevant evidence that was not previously considered by the VA, you can file a supplemental claim. Your VSO can help you determine if this is the best option for your situation.

Option 2: File a Higher Level Review

If you believe that the VA made an error in processing your claim, you can request a higher-level review. This review is conducted by a more experienced VA adjudicator who will take a fresh look at your claim.

Option 3: File a Notice of Disagreement with the Board of Veterans Appeals

If you disagree with the VA’s decision and want to appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA), you can file a notice of disagreement. The BVA is an independent body within the VA that conducts hearings and issues decisions on appeals.

What If I Don’t Agree With The Decision?

If you disagree with the decision made on your appeal, you should meet with your VSO to determine your next steps. Depending on the type of appeal you filed, you may be able to file another supplemental claim, request a higher-level review, or appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).

Evidence Required to Support Your Claim

When filing a VA disability claim, you’ll need to provide evidence to support your claim:

  • VA medical records and hospital records related to your claimed condition
  • Private medical records and hospital reports showing that your disability has worsened
  • Supporting statements from family members, friends, clergy members, law enforcement personnel, or fellow service members

In addition to this evidence, the VA will also review your discharge papers (DD214 or other separation documents) and service treatment records.

As of March 2024, the average number of days to complete disability-related claims is 159.2 days. However, by providing all the necessary evidence with your initial claim, you can help expedite the process and avoid delays.

Contact Benefits Claim to Learn How to File VA Disability Claim

Filing a VA disability claim can be a long process, but with this guide it is a lot easier. Benefits Claim works with accredited VSOs who can guide you through every step of the claims process, from gathering evidence to appealing a denied claim. Contact us to get started and learn more about how to file VA disability claim.

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