For veterans who struggle daily with the lasting effects of an injury or illness that occurred during military service, receiving benefits should be their last concern. Unfortunately, obtaining benefits can be a lengthy and complicated process if one doesn’t know where to begin. That’s why we have put together a step-by-step guide to obtaining veterans’ disability benefits.
Before a claim is filled out and submitted, it is helpful to determine if the veteran is eligible for disability. To be eligible, the veteran must have served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training. They also must have a disability rating for the service-connected condition.
Additionally, one of the following conditions must apply:
- They got sick or injured when serving in the military and it or effects of the condition remain
- They had an illness or injury before joining the military, and their service made it worse
- A condition resulted after military service that is related to the service performed.
Veterans who have received a dishonorable, bad conduct, or other than honorable discharge may not be eligible for benefits.
If the veteran meets this eligibility criterion, they are ready to start a disability insurance claim.
An application for benefits should have supporting evidence to show that an illness or injury was sustained during military service. This evidence could include VA medical records, private medical records, or supporting statements from witnesses.
Veterans have one year to submit additional evidence after filing a claim.
Apply for Benefits
Even if it has been some time since the veteran was on active duty, they are still eligible for benefits if the illness or injury was sustained during that time. However, the sooner a veteran can apply for benefits, the better.
Applying can be done through a variety of means:
- Online using the Veterans On-Line Application (VONAPP)
- Filling out this form and mailing it to the appropriate address
- In-person at a local VA benefit office
Wait for a Response
Currently, the average amount of time the VA is taking to complete disability claims is 104 days. Once the VA reviews the claim, the VA may ask for additional evidence or supporting information. Be sure to provide this as soon as possible to avoid delaying the claim for longer than necessary.
The Claim Process
When the VA receives a claim, they will send a notice that it was received. This will be done through the method of applying that the veteran chose. For online applications, an on-screen confirmation message will appear. For mailed applications, a confirmation letter will be sent in approximately 1-2 weeks.
Once received, a veterans service representative (VSR) will review the claim. They will determine whether more information or supporting evidence is needed. If more evidence is required, the VA will send a to the veteran. If none is required, it will move onto the next step.
Review and Decision
The veterans service representative (VSR) will review the application, supporting evidence, and any available records from the military. They will then decide as to whether the veteran is eligible for benefits.
The veteran will be notified of the decision via postal mail.