Part 2 of Disability Benefits Claims? Do Veterans Need A Lawyer To Prove Their Claim
In last month’s blog, we discussed the importance if of hiring an attorney to assist you with your filing of documents to receive compensation for injuries sustained while in the military. Below we have highlighted the first page from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on filing for compensation. We were going to discuss each area to consider for your claim and then quickly realized if we attempted to do that this blog would be more like a 500-page book.
Looking at this first page, we will note it includes over 6500 words 37 paragraphs; each paragraph has a minimum of 2 hyperlinks and as many as 27, Grammarly spelling and grammar reader says 17 critical issues on the page. I addition, links outside the article to resource providers total 50 or more to resources such as death benefits, health benefits, pension, life insurance and more.
For the average person to look at all of this and try to figure out how to help a family member, friend, business associate or the like would be totally overwhelming. Now change the view and look at this from the position of an injured soldier, knowing this financial support could be the difference between surviving as an individual in today’s society or living in a government funded care facility or on the street, and you will quickly realize why one needs an attorney to assist.
The Citizens’ Attorney is an expert at filing these cases, and there is NO CHARGE TO YOU EVER, until your claim is approved and funded. If you are filing for yourself, a family member or a friend we strongly recommend you contact James, the Citizens’ Attorney first and then find comfort your next move knowing your claim is in the hands of a proven expert.
How to Apply
There are numerous ways to apply for VA disability benefits depending on the type of benefit you are seeking:
- Online using an eBenefitsaccount
- Complete and mail your claim form to your nearest VA regional office
- Go to a VA regional office and have a VA employee assist you. To find the VA regional office nearest you, use the Veterans Affairs National Facilities Locatoror call VA toll free at 1- 866-267-9764
- Work with an accredited representative or agent
We also encourage you to become familiar with evidence requirements so you have a complete understanding of not only VA’s responsibility, but yours as well.
Applying Online though eBenefits
If you need time to obtain supporting evidence, you can begin the application process within eBenefits, obtain your evidence and then complete your application and VA will recognize the date you started the application as your date of claim as long as you complete it within one year. By submitting all of your supporting evidence with your claim, you save processing time and obtain a quicker decision.
Working With an Accredited Representative
VA encourages individuals who are applying for disability compensation to work with an accredited representative or agent to assist them in completing Fully Developed Claim for submission through eBenefits. Being accredited means organizations and individuals must have VA permission to represent Veterans before the Department in their claims for VA benefits. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that Veterans have qualified and competent representation. These individuals receive specialized training in VA benefits law and procedure. You may search for an accredited representative in eBenefits on the Manage Your Representative for VA Claims page.
Visit a VA Regional Office
You may also apply by visiting a VA Regional Office where trained staff can assist you. You can find your regional office on our Facility Locator page. If you have records that support your claim, you should bring them with you. VA will help you obtain records by requesting them from the person, company, or agency that has them, but if submit them yourself you can save processing time and obtain a quicker decision.
Submit Your Claim by Mail
You may also mail us your claim by sending it to your nearest VA Regional Office. You can find your regional office mailing address on our Facility Locator page. If you have records that support your claim, you should send them with your claim. If you want us to request records for you, you must tell us the name and address of the person, company or agency that has these records, the approximate time frame covered by them, and the condition for which you were treated. If you received treatment from a non-VA health care provider you must complete VA Form 21-4142, Authorization and Consent to Release Information to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). We will use this form to request non-VA health records.
Before Leaving Military Service
If you are a member of the armed forces serving on either active duty or full-time National Guard duty, VA encourages you to apply through its pre-discharge program before leaving service.
You must submit all relevant evidence in your possession and/or provide information sufficient to enable VA to obtain all relevant evidence not in your possession. This includes the following as part of your application:
- Discharge or separation papers (DD214 or equivalent)
- Service Treatment Records if they are in your possession
- Medical evidence (doctor & hospital reports)
Fully Developed Claim
The Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program is an optional new initiative that offers Servicemembers, Veterans, and survivors faster decisions from VA on benefit claims.
Servicemembers, Veterans, and survivors simply submit all required records and documentation at the time they make their claim and certify that they have no further evidence. VA can then review and process the claim more quickly. To learn more about Fully Developed Claims and how to apply, view the Fully Developed Claims page.
As a standard claim, VA is responsible for getting relevant records from any Federal agency that you adequately identify and authorize VA to obtain.
VA will make every reasonable effort to obtain relevant records not held by a Federal agency that you adequately identify and authorize VA to obtain. These may include privately held evidence and information you tell us about (such as records from a private doctor or hospital) and/or records from State or local governments or current or former employers.
VA will provide a medical examination for you, or get a medical opinion, if determined it is necessary to make a claims decision. Learn more about VA’s responsibilities for obtaining evidence to support your disability compensation claim on the Evidence page.
The required forms to apply for VA disability compensation benefits are listed below. You can download and mail the completed form to your nearest VA regional office, complete and submit online using eBenefits, or call VA at 1- 866-267-9764 to have a claim form mailed to you.
- Pre-discharge Claim – VA Form 21-526c, Pre-Discharge Compensation Claim
- Original, Reopened, Fully Developed or Supplemental Claim – VA Form 21-526EZ, Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits
Dependents and surviving parents are encouraged to work with an accredited representative or agent to assist them in completing their claims. Claims for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation made by surviving spouses or children require VA Form 21-534EZ, Application for DIC, Death Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits or VA Form 21-534a, Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation by a Surviving Spouse or Child, for in-service deaths. For in-service deaths, a Military Casualty Officer should assist you.
Surviving parents can apply using VA Form 21-534EZ, Application for DIC, Death Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits.
Additional forms for other VA benefits programs are available for download on the VA benefits forms page.