VA Disability Compensation

Frequently Asked Questions

Apply as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the later the effective date of your claim (the date when your claim starts). VA.gov explains how to file a claim.

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.

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). Learn more about standard disability claims.

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.

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.

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). These forms 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.

The VA explains how to submit all of your private medical evidence and provides a list of all DBQ forms that are available to the public.

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.

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.

Yes, all ratings are in multiples of 10%.

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.

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.

Learn more