1.  Go to va.gov.

2.  Sign in to start your application

Save time and save your work in progress by signing in before starting your application. When you're signed into your va.gov account, they can prefill part of your application based on your account details. If you sign in after you've started your application, you won't be able to save the information filled in.

1.  Download VA form 20-0995

2.  Select a benefit type in part 1 on the form. Them most common benefit type is compensation, but if you're unsure, check your VA decision letter or call 1-800-827-1000.

1.  The VA determines if the veteran is eligible to receive VA benefits, including whether the veteran was discharged or separated under other than dishonorable conditions.

2.  The VA determines whether its statutory duty to assist a claimant in proving the claim has been triggered, and if so, the VA assists the claimant in gathering the necessary evidence.

3.  If the claim survives the first step and the VA takes all action necessary to satisfy its statutory duty to assist, the VA decides whether the veteran qualifies for disability compensation under the rules discussed.

4.  If service connection is established, the VA determines the severity of the disability and assigns a percentage evaluation from 0 to 100 based on the schedule for rating disabilities.

5.  The VA sets the effective date for the award of service-connected disability compensation.

You can help to support your VA disability claim by providing documents, such as:

*  Military medical treatment records.

*  VA medical records and hospital records that relate to your claimed illnesses or injuries or that show your rated disability has gotten worse.

*  private medical records and hospital reports that relate to your claimed illnesses or injuries or that show your disability has gotten worse.

*  Supporting statements you'd like to provide from family members, friends, clergy members, law enforcement personnel, or those you served with that can tell more about your claimed condition and how and when it happened or how it got worse.

*  They will also review your discharge papers (DD214 or other separation documents) and service treatment records.

Depending on the type of claim you file, you may gather supporting documents yourself, or you can ask the VA for help to gather evidence.

No.  Simply starting your VA disability application doesn't show your intent to file.  You'll need to submit an intent to file form, which sets the effective date (the day you can start getting your benefits).  Then you can focus on gathering supporting documents to turn in with your application.  If you submit an intent to file before your claim, you may be able to get retroactive payments (money you'll get starting from your effective date).

Note:  If your file your claim online, you don't need to separately send an intent to file form.  The online application already includes your intent to file.

The first requirement for a grant of service-connected disability compensation is competent evidence that the veteran currently has a particular disability. Compensation benefits are only available to veteran with current disabilities. A veteran is not eligible for compensation simply because he or she contracted a disease or suffered an injury while on active duty. Many veterans experienced illnesses or injuries in service that left no lasting symptoms. these medical conditions are considered acute and transitory, and they provide no basis for compensation benefits. In addition, simply proving exposure to Agent Orange in the Republic of Vietnam, or to environmental hazards in the Persian Gulf War or at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, is not sufficient to establish entitlement to service-connected disability compensation. To be entitled to compensation, a veteran must prove that he or she has a current disability or current disabling residuals from an in-service disease or injury. If a veteran cannot show this, the claim will fail.

You can submit your intent to file by phone or by written form.

By phone:

Call 800-827-1000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET

By submitting a form:

Download, fill out, and submit an intent to file a claim for compensation and/or pension, or survivors pension and/or DIC (VA Form 21-0966).

Accredited representatives and VSOs can help you understand and apply for VA benefits, like:

*  Financial support

*  Education

*  Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E)

*  Home loans

*  Lift insurance

*  Pension

*  Health care

*  Burial benefits

These trained professionals can also:

*  Help you gather supporting documents (like a doctor's report or medical test result)

*  File a claim or appeal on your behalf

*  provide added support, like helping with transportation to medical appointments or emergency funds.

Note:  Veterans Service Officers work for Veterans Service Organizations (both are called VSOs), as well as for local government offices.

The three fundamental requirements for obtaining service-connected disability compensation:

*  First, there must be competent evidence of a current disability. 

*  Second, there must be medical, or in certain circumstances, lay evidence of in-service incurrence or aggravation of a disease or injury.

*  Finally, there must be competent evidence of a link or nexus between the in-serve incurrence or aggravation of a disease or injury and the current disability.


The following diseases are covered, even if they appear more than one year after you separated from service:

*  Hansen's disease (a long-lasting infection that affects your skin, nerves, and mucous membranes) can appear within 3 years after discharge.

*  Tuberculosis (an infection that attacks your lungs and sometimes other areas of your body) can appear within 3 years after discharge.

*  Multiple sclerosis (a long-lasting illness that can cause numbness, weakness, and many other symptoms) can appear within 7 years after discharge.

*  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also know as Lou Gehrig's disease (a long-lasting illness that affects muscle control), can appear any time after discharge.

After you file your disability benefits claim, the VA may ask you to have a claim exam (also known as a compensation and pension, or C&P exam).  This exam will help them rate your disability.  Your rating will be based on how severe your disability is and will affect how much disability compensation you'll receive.  Compensation may include things like monthly payments and enrollment in the VA health care program.  The VA claim exam is different from a regular medical appointment because the examiner won't prescribe any medicine or treat you for your disability.

Does everyone who files a claim need to have a VA claim exam?

No.  The VA will ask you to have a claim exam only if they need more information to decided your claim.  If you have enough medical evidence in your file to support your claim, they won't ask you to have a claim exam.  Medical evidence may include doctor and hospital reports, test results, and other documents.

How to schedule your VA claim exam?

The staff at your local VA medical center or a local doctor's office that VA partner with will contact you.  They'll either send you a letter by mail with the date and time of your exam, or call you to find a time that works for you.  Make sure both the VA regional office and the VA medical center nearest you have your up to date address, phone number, and email address so you get your exam notice in time.

What should you do when you receive your exam letter or phone call?

Call the number provided right away to confirm the time and location of your exam.  It's important not to miss your scheduled exam, so you'll want to double check that you have the right place and time.

What if you can't make it to the scheduled exam?

If you can't make it to your appointment, let the VA know right away.  You can most likely rescheduled, but this may delay your claim.

To reschedule your appointment:

Call 800-827-1000 or go to your nearest VA regional office.

What to bring to your VA claim exam?

You don't need to bring anything to your exam.  If you have any new non-VA medical records (like records from a recent surgery or illness), please be sure to submit them before your appointment.  The health care provider can't review new information during the exam.  On the day of the exam, you'll want to wear comfortable clothes so you can move freely while the doctor exams you.

If you need help filing a disability claim, you can contact a VA regional office and ask to speak to a counselor.  To find the nearest regional office, please call 800-827-1000.  An accredited representative, like a Veteran Service Officer (VSO), can help you fill out your claim.  VSOs work on behalf of veterans and service members as well as their dependents and survivors.

1.  Sign in to va.gov.

2.  Choose how you want to receive your authentication code.

3.  Enter the authentication code you received.

4.  Go to the claim status tool.

5.  Review your claims, appeals, and decision reviews.

6.  Review the status of a claim.

7.  Review the files for your claim.

8.  Review the details of your claim.

You can find an accredited representative or a VSO in 1 of 2 ways:

*  Go to ebenefits to find a local representative (including a recognized VSO, an attorney, or claims agent) by state/territory, zip code, or the organization's name.

*  Or search the VA office of the General Counsel's list to find VA-recognized organizations and VA-accredited individuals by name, city, state, or zip code.

1.  A veteran is injured in a motorcycle accident while on active duty and his service treatment records documents injuries to his left shoulder and left knee. When the veteran files a compensation claim ten years later, the veteran will need a new examination to assess the present condition of his left knee and left shoulder to satisfy the current disability requirement.

2.  A veteran presents medical evidence that he had meningitis and frozen feet while on active duty. There is no evidence tending to show that he has presently existing disability stemming from either meningitis or frozen feet. He has not satisfied the requirement of showing current disability.

3.  A veteran seeks service connection for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and submits a recent report from a private counselor diagnosing him with PTSD. But his claims file also contains a recent report from a VA psychiatrist concluding that the veteran does not have PTSD. The VA will weigh the two conflicting reports, perhaps also obtain a third opinion to reconcile the two, and make a finding based on all the evidence as to whether the veteran currently has PTSD. Thus, the veteran may lose if the negative evidence outweights the positive evidence.

4.  A veteran seeks service connection for a chest injury, cuts and bruises over his eye, and a concussion, all of which were sustained in combat. He testifies that the chest condition is his only current problem and submits no evidence of any current symptomatology related to cuts and bruises over the eye or the concussion. He has failed to show a current disability for concussion and for cuts above the eye and, absent other evidence, those claims will be denied without the VA scheduling a medical examination for those two conditions. However, his testimony alone as to current chest condition should be sufficient to trigger the VA's duty to assist by providing him with a free medical examination.

5.  A veteran received a shrapnel wound under the left eye. He presents medical evidence that he has shrapnel fragments remaining in his cheek and that he has pain and headaches as a result and there is no contrary evidence. The veteran has submitted evidence to satisfy the requirement of a current disability.

6.  A veteran submits evidence that he has been diagnosed in the past with PTSD, but the evidence also shows that he currently exhibits no symptoms of PTSD and has had no symptoms since before he filed the claim. The veteran has not satisfied the requirement of showing a current disability.

You may be able to get disability benefits if you have signs of an illness like hypertension (high blood pressure), arthritis, diabetes, or peptic ulcers that started within a year after you were discharged from active military service.  If your symptoms appear within one year after discharge-even if they weren't there while you were serving- the VA will conclude that they're related to your service.

Am I eligible for disability benefits from VA?

You may be eligible for disability benefits if you have an illness that's at least 10% disabling that appears within 1 year after discharge, and you meet both of the requirements listed below.

Both of these must be true:

*  The illness is listed in Title 38, Code of Federal Regulation, 3.09(a), and

*  You didn't receive a dishonorable discharge

Military Sexual Trauma (MST) definition

VA uses the term MST to refer to sexual assault or sexual harassment while an individual was on Active Duty, Active duty for training, or Inactive Duty Training.  Example include:

*  Being pressured or coerced into sexual activities, such as with threats of negative treatment if you refuse to cooperate or with promises of better treatment in exchange for sex;

*  Someone having sexual contact with you without your consent, such as when you were asleep or intoxicated;

*  Being physically forced to have sex;

*  Being touched in a sexual way that made you uncomfortable;

*  Repeated comments about your body or sexual activities; and 

*  Threatening and unwanted sexual advances.

To receive disability compensation from VA, you must have a current health condition related to these experiences.

Evidence needed for disability claim based on MST

MST impacts different veterans in different ways, and you can file a disability compensation claim for any health condition you have as result of your experiences of MST.

For any VA disability compensation claim to be successful, there must be:

*  A current physical or mental condition that affects your body or mind; and

*  An event, injury, or illness that happened while you were serving in the military; and

*  A link between your current disability and the event, injury, or disease that happened during your military service.

For MST-related claims, you can use any of the items listed below to support your disability claim related to MST.

Department of Defense (DoD) sexual assault or harassment reporting forms

*  Investigative reports completed during military service

In addition to DoD reports, veterans who have current posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental health conditions related to their experiences of MST can also submit indirect sources of evidence.  These may be behavioral events, patterns of changed behavior or circumstances that provide clues the traumatic event happened.  They do not have to show definitive evidence that it did.  Some examples are:

*  Change in work performance at the time

*  Episodes of the following without clear cause:



*  Journals or personal diaries

*  Panic attacks

*  Pregnancy tests

*  Records from official sources

Civilian physicians

Civilian hospitals, health clinics, mental health counseling centers

Civilian law enforcement

Rape crisis centers or centers for domestic violence

*  Relationship issues, like divorce

*  Requests for transfer to another military duty assignment

*  Sexual dysfunction

*  Statements from others

Chaplains or clergy members


Faculty member

Family members

Fellow service members


*  Substance abuse

*  Tests for sexually transmitted diseases

*  Unexplained social or economic behavior

VA may request a medical opinion to help determine how the indirect sources of evidence relate to MST and any current PTSD or other mental health symptoms.  VA will schedule an appointment for you to meet with a clinician who will provide this medical opinion.  If you prefer to meet with clinician of a certain gender for this appointment, please make this request during the scheduling of your appointment.

New evidence:  Is information that VA didn't have before the last decision.

Relevant evidence:  Is information that could prove or disprove something in your claim.

You can submit evidence yourself or ask VA to get evidence, like medical records from a VA medical center, other federal facility, or your private health care provider.  VA can't accept your supplemental claim without new and relevant evidence.

Our process time depends on you. As soon as you provide the necessary documentation to support your case, we can complete the IMO. You may need current diagnosis, MRI etc.