When should I apply for VA Disability Compensation?

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Apply as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the later the effective date of your claim (the date when your claim starts). It’s easy to file your application online using eBenefits.

Do I need help applying for VA Disability Compensation?

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You can handle your own claim, but it can be hard. A successful claim usually requires: knowledge of the specific benefits that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers; an understanding of related laws, regulations, and VA policies; knowing what kind of evidence is needed to support your claim; and how to submit evidence. It helps to work with a qualified representative. You can searchfor accredited veterans service organization representatives on the VA website.

What is the difference between a standard claim for VA Disability Compensation and the Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program?

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With a standard VA Disability Compensation claim, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must ask for relevant records from any federal agency that you clearly identify, and get other relevant records from other sources (like a private doctor, hospital, state or local governments, or current or former employers).

In the optional Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program, when you file your claim you include all relevant records that you have, plus any records that are easy to get, like private medical records. The FDC process is typically faster than a standard claim, and it’s risk-free: If the VA decides it needs more evidence to process your claim, it takes your claim out of FDC and handles it as a standard claim. Learn more about the Fully Developed Claims program.

What kind of evidence do I need to file a claim for VA Disability Compensation?

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If you are applying for Disability Compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), you need careful and complete documentation. If you have the following documents, attach copies of them to your application:
  • Discharge or separation papers (DD-214 or equivalent)
  • Dependency records (marriage/divorce papers and children's birth certificates)
  • Military and civilian medical evidence (doctor and hospital reports)

For standard claim processing, the VA asks for needed evidence from you, a medical professional, a government agency, or other sources. For the optional Fully Developed Claims (FDC) process, you give the VA all the relevant records that you have when you file your claim, and certify that you have no more evidence to submit.

Learn more about VA evidence requirements and the Fully Developed Claims program.

What is a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) and when do I need one?

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Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) are downloadable forms that make it easier to document medical conditions when filing for benefits with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA has developed more than 70 DBQs for specific medical conditions; they are designed to give the VA exactly the details needed to process your claim. You can choose to visit a primary care provider in your community to complete your DBQ at your own expense, or you can go to a VA facility for free.

Learn more about DBQs.

What if the VA denies my claim?

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If the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) denies your claim, you don’t agree with their decision, and you think they made an error, you can appeal. There are different types and levels of appeals, with deadlines and rules. It’s important to get help from an accredited representative, accredited claims agent, or accredited attorney right away to make sure you meet all the deadlines and follow all the rules. If you don’t, you might not be able to appeal and you may lose out on benefits that should be yours.

Learn more about the appeals process.

Why isn’t my overall disability rating equal to all of my individual ratings added up?

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The VA uses a formula to calculate your final combined disability rating when there is more than one disabling condition. Your final combined rating is especially unlikely to be the same as simply adding together the ratings for each individual condition if you have several service-connected conditions.

Are all VA service-connected disability ratings multiples of 10% (i.e., 10%, 20%, 30 %....)?

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Yes, all ratings are in multiples of 10%.

I’m rated at less than 100%, but I can’t work because of my service-connected conditions. What else can the VA do for me?

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You can get extra payments if you are Individually Unemployable (IU) because of your service-connected disability or disabilities. To get these extra IU payments, you must already get VA Disability Compensation and both:
  • Have one service-connected disability rated at 60% or higher, or two or more service-connected conditions with at least one rated at 40% or higher, and
  • Be unable to get or keep a job that pays as much as the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG).

Learn more about Individual Unemployability.

I need VA medical care for a service-connected condition and I’ll take time off of work or school to recover. I’m not rated at 100% or as unemployable. What can the VA do for me as I recover?

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Depending on how long you are off work, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may give you “temporary 100%” compensation during your recovery period after treatment for a service-connected condition.