VA disability compensation benefits are a monthly, tax-free payment to Veterans who were injured, sustained a long-term illness or experienced a worsening medical condition during their military service.
In addition to compensating Veterans whose disabilities incurred while serving in the military, Veterans may also be granted compensation for specific post-service medical conditions that arose because of their military service. Known as presumptive disabilities, these conditions may not have arisen in service but may be granted as service-connected because its occurrence can been linked directly to military service.
VA recently added new medical conditions to a growing list of presumptive disabilities, which you can view here. These conditions can be presumed to have occurred because of an exposure to Agent Orange, ionizing radiation, and service in the Gulf War.
How to file a claim for disability compensation
The COVID-19 pandemic has not halted the claims process. Veterans can still file claims, and VA is still processing them. VA recommends filing a claim online, but it can still be done in person or through the mail. To get started, visit the VA disability compensation webpage and follow the steps listed below.
Step One: Prepare documents before starting your application
Gather any evidence, documentation and/or required forms that support your claim before beginning your application. This might include:
You must include both the required and (if necessary) supplementary documents or your application will be voided. In some cases, you may need to turn in one or more forms to support your claim.
Step Two: File your claim
There are three ways to file a claim: online, in person (with a VA representative, or with a Veterans Service Organization) or through the mail. Online applications are simple and easy to complete. You can access the application by visiting the Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits webpage, then sign into your VA.gov account (or create a new account at the ID.me website). You can save your progress online for up to one year before the application expires.
If you do not have access to a computer or internet device, VA also accepts printed disability claim applications that can be filed either in person or through the mail. In person applications can be submitted to your local VA regional office. Visit VA.gov/find-locations to find a VA regional office in your state. If you wish to mail your application, please do so by sending it to the following address:
Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Janesville, WI 53547-4444
Step Three: VA will review your claim and notify you of its decision
VA may require a few months to make a decision on claim applications. The time it takes to review your application depends on three factors:
Once your disability claim application has been reviewed and all required documentation has been received, VA will decide on your claim and send you a notification letter of its decision. The notification letter will include specific details regarding the decisions made on your claim. You can expect to receive your notification letter 7 to 10 business days after a decision is made. Please contact a VA call center if it does not arrive within this period.
Step Four: After you receive a decision
You may ask for a second review if you are not satisfied with VA’s decision. Veterans who filed a claim on or after February 19, 2019, may choose from three application review options. The first, a Supplemental Claim, allows you to add new and relevant evidence (that VA doesn’t already have). The second, a Higher-Level Review, asks for a senior reviewer to examine your case. This option does not allow you to edit or add to your current application. And lastly, a Board Appeal requests a Veterans Law Judge with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals to review your application.
If you have any questions or concerns before, during or after submitting a request to have your decision reviewed, please visit the VA Decision Reviews and Appeals website.
For more information
Life comes with plenty of challenges, but ensuring the wellbeing of you and your family should not be one of them. Visit VA.gov to learn more about VA benefits and services.
If you wish to learn more about the claims process, visit the VAntage Point blog platform to keep up to date on disability claims and benefit eligibility requirements.
For more general information on the VA disability compensation and the process, click here. For more on eligibility, click here. You can also watch this video series produced by the Office of Information and Technology (OIT).
To request additional help filing a disability claim, learn more about accredited representatives or contact a VA regional office near you to speak with a counselor by calling 800-827-1000.