Learn How To Apply For Disability Compensation

To apply for VA dependency and indemnity compensation, the applicant must be a former or currently active service member, or eligible family members of a veteran. Applying for veterans disability compensation can take place while the servicemember is still active, but has a discharge date of between 60 to 180 days and is a participant in the Benefits Delivery at Discharge program. Active service members who know how to apply for disability VA benefitscan do so as early as 60 days from the date of discharge by utilizing the Benefits Delivery at Discharge "quick start" process. To learn more about how to apply for VA disability benefits, what forms to utilize and the various methods of applying, please refer to the topics below:

  • How to apply for disability compensation
  • Forms required for disability compensation
  • Methods of applying for disability compensation

How to Apply for Disability Compensation

The veterans disability compensation formsneeded to apply for disability compensation initially are Veteran's Application for Compensation and/or Pension (VA Form 21-526) form. VA disability benefits forms are available for download online or obtained from the local VA offices. In addition to VA disability benefits forms, veterans' discharge papers (DD214) are a requirement for all periods of service by the servicemember, as well as any medical and nursing home records and relevant paperwork documenting marriage, divorce and dependents. If applying for veterans disability compensation before actual discharge has taken place, then the service member must complete a medical separation examination before sending relevant paperwork or the VA disability benefits form.

Most advocates advise veterans to learn about applying for veterans disability compensation if complications begin to arise within a year upon discharge. The application stands a greater chance of the VA granting benefits because the evidential trail is still current. There is no time limit to filing, but most advisors state that applying for veterans disability compensation is easier if initiated closer to the time of discharge than a few years down the road.

Applicants can submit VA disability benefits formsin several ways. The easiest way is through eBenefits, which is a military online portal specifically dedicated to military forms. The veterans disability compensation forms and accompanying documentation can also be mailed directly to the address indicated on the forms, or they can be hand delivered to the nearest VA facility.

Forms Required for Disability Compensation

Veterans disability compensation forms vary with the type of claim being made. The VA disability benefits form 21-526 is applicable to usewhen applying for disability compensation for an injury related and directly connected to military service. This same veterans disability compensation form is also for who are older than 65 years of age and are petitioning for a pension based on a disability. However, those applicants must only complete the portions of form 21-526 that pertain to the benefit. For example, those applying for compensation would skip VII-VIII as well as IX-X, whereas those applying for veterans disability compensation as a pension will fill it out the completely. Applicants can learn more about filling out the VA application for compensation correctly or obtain assistance with completing the application by visitingor phoning the local VA.

If using an agent when applying for veterans disability compensation, then applicants should submit Form 21-22 or 21-22A. Submitted forms must include signatures on Part XII (item 42A) and in all areas designated,otherwise processing of the application may be subject to delays. Applicants can mail the application or hand deliver it to the address on the form or to the closest VA facility.Additional veterans disability compensation forms that may be required will include Form 21-4142, which authorizes the release of medical records if the veteran was seen by a private physician's office. To apply for VA dependency and indemnity compensation, applicants will need to complete VA Form 21-534EZ. The VA survivor benefits form is another term for this form.

The veterans disability compensation forms must be submitted in a certain order, as well. Here is a listing of the required paperwork and forms in order:

  • VA Form 21-526 (pre-discharge papers)
  • VA Form 21-526EZ (Fully Developed or Supplemental Claims)
  • VA Form 21-534EZ (Dependency and Indemnity Compensation)
  • VA Form 28-1900 (Vocational Rehabilitation)
  • VA Form 9 (Appeals)

Applicants,who want to know how to prepare for the appeal process, should to make copies of the veterans disability compensation forms before submitting them so that if any discrepancy should occur there are backup copies. Most veterans disability compensation forms are completed within four or five months, with slightly more than 30 percent of those taking longer due to unforeseen circumstances.

Methods of Applying for Disability Compensation

Applying for veterans disability compensationcan be undertaken in several ways, the easiest being to do so online through eBenefits. To learn how to apply for disability VA benefits, veterans must first create an account. When applying for veterans disability compensation online, the veteran can pause at any time in the process and return to continue the application. Applicants must enter all dataas digital references (scanned copies of the original DD-214). When applying for veterans disability compensation, there is a time limit. The applicant must submit the appropriate forms and documentation, along with evidence, within a year.

Another way of applying for veterans disability compensation is to work with a representative who has been approved for working with veterans. Most veterans are encouraged when applying for veterans disability compensation to work with a veteran's representative to learn how to fill out VA forms properly. Representatives are familiar with all of the forms required, documentation that must be presented and how materials should be presented for the claim to be honored. An agent who the VA has vetted and approved for his or her understanding of the process and has the permission of the Department of Defense (DOD) to represent the veteran.

Veterans can also submit VA disability benefits forms in person at regional VA offices. Once there, trained staff can assist the applicant in reviewing the submitted paperwork for any areas that may cause the application to be delayed in processing. When delivering the VA disability benefits forms in person, the applicant is encouraged to bring in all relevant VA benefit claim paperwork and evidence.

A less reliable way to submit VA disability benefits forms is to do so through regular mail. This is perhaps the slowest route available and if the applicant is requesting that the VA locate records on the veteran's behalf, the application could be further delayed.


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