How To Apply For VA Disability Benefits?

How To Apply For VA Disability Benefits?

Posted On: Nov 22, 2022

VA disability benefits are offered to veterans who suffer from a disorder or injury caused or aggravated by their military service. You need to apply as soon as possible, but even if it's many years since you were on active military duty, you’re still eligible for disability benefits.

Here's what you must know about applying for VA disability benefits and fast-tracking your compensation claim.

If you are ready to file your VA disability claim, there’re a few steps you should follow:

  1. Gather your medical evidence and submit your intent to compensation file
  2. Submit your disability compensation claim
  3. Wait for the decision (expect a C&P examination from the VA)
  4. Appeal when necessary (denial or rating increase)

Gathering medical evidence is essential to supporting your disability claim. The procedure will be different depending on your intent to file. 

You must complete and submit a VA Form 21-526EZ named “Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits.”

  • The application will set your effective date if you file your claim electronically. Once you initiate the application, you’ll have one year to complete it.
  • If you file via mail, submit your intent to file to set the effective date.
  • You can also file the claim personally at the local, regional VA office.

Processing Your Claim

Eight steps are included in how the VA processes your disability compensation claim. These steps may take a few weeks to months to complete.

Disability Claim Received:

The VA will inform you they’ve received your compensation claim.

Initial Review by VSR:

 Veteran Service Representative (VSR) will review your disability benefits claim

Gathering of Evidence:

 The VSR will collect evidence from different sources.

Review of Evidence:

 After receiving all evidence, the VSR will review them.

Preparation for Decision:

The RSVR will review your entire application.

Pending Decision Approval:

The RSVR will submit the decision recommendation documents after reviewing your application, and final approval on your disability compensation claim will be made.

Preparation for Notification:

 Senior Veterans Service Representative (SVSR) will review the completed documents and order the release of the VA award letter and payment.

Claim Completed:

 VA will close your claim and will mail you the decision packet.

How Long Does It Take For My Claim To Be Processed?

If you file your claim online, it happens within hours. However, if you mail your application or drop it off in person, it may take up to two weeks. Also, the VA will inform you if they need any additional information.

During the stage where evidence is collected, you may have to complete a C&P Exam, which helps determine your VA disability rating. The VA will inform you when the C&P exam is scheduled.

The VA disability claims procedure is notoriously slow. It may take anywhere from several months to years to receive a decision on your disability compensation claim. An appeal process will require more time than expected if your claim is denied. As of May 2022, the VA is taking 141.9 days to process your claims.