For veterans who have served our country and suffered service-related injuries or developed disabilities, filing a disability claim with the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is an important step towards receiving the benefits they deserve. However, the claims process can be complex and overwhelming. There are a number of steps that you will want to follow to ensure your claim is appropriately considered:
Step 1: Gather Necessary Documentation
Before initiating the disability claim process, it's crucial to gather all relevant documentation to support your claim. This includes:
Service records: Retrieve your military service records, including your DD Form 214 or other separation documents.
Medical records: Gather medical records related to your condition or disability, both from military service and any subsequent treatment you received outside of the military.
Nexus Letter: a vital letter that clearly connects a veteran’s current medical condition to another service-connected condition or to circumstances directly related to military service that resulted in the veteran's disabling condition(s). Nexus Letters are letters from a veteran’s current physician(s) stating their medical opinion regarding the service-connection of a veteran’s condition(s).
Step 2: Determine Eligibility and Benefits
Review the eligibility requirements and benefits provided by the VA. Eligibility is determined by various factors, including the nature of your disability, the time frame of service, and your discharge status. Understanding the available benefits will help you navigate the claims process more effectively.
Step 3: Initiate the Claim
There are several ways to initiate a VA disability claim:
Online through eBenefits: The eBenefits portal (www.ebenefits.va.gov) allows veterans to file a claim electronically, providing a convenient and efficient option.
By mail: You can submit a completed VA Form 21-526EZ, "Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits," along with supporting documentation, to the appropriate VA regional office.
In-person assistance: Visit your nearest VA regional office or contact a Veterans Service
Organization (VSO) to receive personalized assistance in filing your claim.
Step 5: Monitor Claim Status and Appeals
Once your claim is submitted, you can track its progress online through the eBenefits portal or by contacting the VA regional office handling your claim. If your claim is denied or you are dissatisfied with the rating decision, you have the right to appeal. Seek assistance from a VSO or a veterans disability attorney to guide you through the appeals process.
Step 6: Provide Additional Evidence, if Necessary
If the VA requests additional evidence to support your claim or if you have new evidence, promptly submit it. This can include medical records, statements from healthcare professionals, or statements from friends and family describing the impact of your disability on your life.
Filing a VA disability claim can be a complex and time-consuming process, but it is essential for veterans seeking the benefits they rightfully deserve. If you are struggling with your claim for benefits, seeking assistance from a VSO or veterans disability attorney can provide valuable support throughout the claims and appeals process.
Call the Law Office of Malyuk McDaniel Kasper LLC at 330.929.9700 to speak with an attorney who can help you.