Applying for VA Disability Step by Step

Veteran using a crutch

It’s not uncommon for Veterans to receive VA disability caused by injuries or illnesses connected to their service. The Veterans Administration is designed to assist Veterans in applying for and receiving benefits for medical conditions related to their time in active duty. 

In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report of August 2020, 4.7 million veterans, or 26 percent of total Veterans, had a service-connected disability that qualified for benefits assistance. 

  • Among veterans with a service-connected disability, 27 percent reported a disability rating of less than 30 percent, while 44 percent had a rating of 60 percent or higher. 
  • Among veterans who served during Gulf War-era II, 40 percent (1.8 million) reported a service-connected disability. 
  • Among Gulf War-era II veterans with a service-connected disability, 19 percent reported a disability rating of less than 30 percent and 54 percent reported a disability rating of 60 percent or higher in August 2020.

If you’re looking for disability made easy, Affleck & Gordon is here to help demystify the process of applying for and receiving, VA disability benefits. 

VA Disability Made Easy

First, you must find out if you are eligible for VA disability at all. To be eligible, you must have served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, and have a disability rating for your service-connected condition. In addition, at least one of the following must be true:

  • You got sick or injured while serving in the military, and can link this condition to your illness or injury, or
  • Had an illness or injury before you joined the military, and serving made it worse, or
  • Have a disability-related to your active-duty service that didn’t appear until after you ended your service.

Secondly, you must consider your discharge status. If you received a discharge other than honorable, were discharged for bad conduct, or were given a dishonorable discharge, you may not be eligible for disability benefits. In these situations, there are ways you can attempt to still receive disability benefits. Learn more here

The third step is to gather all evidence and supporting documentation that you’ll need to submit yourself for your initial claim. Remember: it’s important to show the VA the link between your medical condition and your service. 

For example: “I have a bad back and here’s the documentation of my debilitation” isn’t as effective as “I have a bad back due to injuries sustained on the following dates, while on active duty, and here’s the documentation of my debilitation.” 

Next, be sure your claim is filled out completely. Make sure that all of your documentation is included in your initial claim. Remember, if your claim is denied for being incomplete, it can delay your claims process significantly. 

In some circumstances, additional forms and documents are required. To see if your case falls into this category, learn more here

You can help to support your VA disability claim by providing documents, such as:

  • VA medical records and hospital records that relate to your claimed illnesses or injuries or that show your rated disability has gotten worse
  • Private medical records and hospital reports that relate to your claimed illnesses or injuries or that show your disability has gotten worse
  • Supporting statements you’d like to provide from family members, friends, clergy members, law enforcement personnel, or those you served with that can tell us more about your claimed condition and how and when it happened or how it got worse

How Do I Get Started?

Begin by downloading VA Form 21-526EZ, you can work with a trained professional called an accredited representative to get help filing a claim for disability compensation. At Affleck & Gordon, we have accredited representatives on staff who are experienced and trained in helping you with your claim or appeal. 

Get help filing your claim with a free consultation now. 

What is an Intent to File?

As of June 2021, the VA takes 134.4 days to process initial claims for disability. By starting the process, you’re moving in the right direction, but legally, that isn’t enough to guarantee your back pay benefits, as well. So it’s important that once you’ve made the decision to move forward with a VA disability claim, you file an intent to file as soon as possible. By filing an intent to file, it shows that you’re beginning the process for disability benefits even if you don’t have all the supporting documentation needed to complete a claim. Keep in mind, a complete claim is more likely to be approved at first pass. Incomplete forms often lead to denial of benefits. Filing an Intent to File gives you the time you need to compile complete evidence of your medical conditions while allowing you to receive benefits for back pay.

More Facts about Denial of Benefits: 

  • You may file for disability at any time after your service.
  • Of all original claims filed each year for VA disability, 31% are denied. 
  • You may have all, none or some of your claims denied.
  • Of those initially denied, 60% are denied in error. 
  • If your original claim is denied, you typically have one year to file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD).
  • The average decision time for an initial VA disability claim is

    94.3 days. However this is only an average, and every case is different based on the complexity involved.

  • Having an attorney advocate on your side likely doubles your chances of approval. 

At Affleck & Gordon, helping veterans receive their disability benefits is a primary area of practice. Serving Metro Atlanta and the greater Columbus/Phenix City area, the attorneys with Affleck & Gordon care deeply for their clients and assist them with problems that may arise with their disability claim. 

If your VA Disability claim or your SSDI claim was denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck & Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for decades. Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us (404) 990-3945.

Related Posts
  • Inside the VA Disability Claims Process: Expert Insights and Tips for Veterans Read More
  • How Long Do I Have to Apply for VA Benefits? Read More
  • Why Would a Veteran be Denied VA Benefits? Read More