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How to file a VA disability claim

VA Disability Claim


Find out how to file a claim for disability compensation or increased disability compensation.

How do I prepare before starting my application?

What evidence will I need to provide to support my claim?

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

Depending on the type of claim you file, you may gather supporting documents yourself, or you can ask for our help to gather evidence.

Find out what evidence we’ll need for your claim

We’ll also review your discharge papers (DD214 or other separation documents) and service treatment records.

Please note: You don’t have to submit any evidence to support your claim, but we may need to schedule a claim exam so we can learn more about your condition.

You should also know that you have up to a year from the date we receive your claim to turn in any evidence. If you start your application and need time to gather more supporting documents, you can save your application and come back later to finish it. We’ll recognize the date you started your application as your date of claim as long as you complete it within 365 days.

Can I file my claim online?

It depends on your situation. Answer a few questions, and we'll guide you to the right place.

What other ways can I file my disability claim?

By mail

File your claim by mail using an Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits (VA Form 21-526EZ).

Download VA Form 21-526EZ (PDF)

Print the form, fill it out, and send it to this address:

Department of Veterans Affairs

Claims Intake Center

PO Box 4444

Janesville, WI 53547-4444

In person

Bring your application to a VA regional benefit office near you.

Find a VA regional benefit office near you

With the help of a trained professional

You can work with a trained professional called an accredited representative to get help filing a claim for disability compensation.

Get help filing your claim

What happens after I file my VA disability claim?

Find out what happens after you file

You don’t need to do anything while you’re waiting unless we send you a letter asking for more information. If we schedule exams for you, be sure not to miss them.

How long does it take VA to make a decision?

94.3 days

Average number of days to complete disability-related claims in October 2019

More information about filing disability claims

Claim types and when to file

Learn about standard claims, supplemental claims, secondary claims, and more.

Evidence needed for your disability claim

Find out what evidence we'll need to support your disability claim.

Disabilities that appear within 1 year after discharge

Find out if you can get disability benefits if you have signs of an illness within a year after being discharged from service.

Get help filing a claim

Find out how to work with a trained professional called an accredited representative to file your claim.


2020 VA Disability Payment Schedule

2020 VA Disability Pmnt


If you receive VA disability payments, you probably were happy to know that for 2020, you get a 1.6% raise in your benefits,. But when will you get those monthly checks?

Disability payment benefits for a particular month are paid the first business day of the following month. When the first business day of the month falls on a non-business day or a holiday, VA benefits will be paid on the last business day of the preceding month.

And just when are those payment dates for 2020? Luckily, we have the VA disability payment schedule right here to help you plan your finances:


Payment Date

Day of Week


Jan. 31



Feb. 28



Apr. 1



May 1



June 1



July 1



July 31



Sep. 1



Oct. 1



Oct. 30



Dec. 1



Dec. 31


Stay On Top Of Your Benefits

Military benefits are always changing. Keep up with everything from pay to health care by signing up for a free membership, which will send all the latest benefits straight to your inbox.


Veterans Compensation Benefits Rate Tables - Effective 12/1/19

Go to our How to Read Compensation Benefits Rate Tables to learn how to use the table..

Rates (No Dependents): 10% - 20%

Basic Rates - 10%-100% Combined Degree Only

Effective 12/1/19

Without Children

With Children

30% - 60%

30% - 60%

70% - 100%

70% - 100%

10% - 20% (No Dependents)







30% - 60% Without Children

Dependent Status





Veteran Alone





Veteran with Spouse Only





Veteran with Spouse & One Parent





Veteran with Spouse and Two Parents





Veteran with One Parent





Veteran with Two Parents





Additional for A/A spouse (see footnote b)





70% - 100% Without Children

Dependent Status





Veteran Alone





Veteran with Spouse Only





Veteran with Spouse and One Parent





Veteran with Spouse and Two Parents





Veteran with One Parent





Veteran with Two Parents





Additional for A/A spouse (see footnote b)





30% - 60% With Children

Dependent Status





Veteran with Spouse and Child





Veteran with Child Only





Veteran with Spouse, One Parent and Child





Veteran with Spouse, Two Parents and Child





Veteran with One Parent and Child





Veteran with Two Parents and Child





Add for Each Additional Child Under Age 18





Each Additional Schoolchild Over Age 18 (see footnote a)





Additional for A/A spouse (see footnote b)





70% - 100% With Children

Dependent Status





Veteran with Spouse and Child





Veteran with Child Only





Veteran with Spouse, One Parent and Child





Veteran with Spouse, Two Parents and Child





Veteran with One Parent and Child





Veteran with Two Parents and Child





Add for Each Additional Child Under Age 18





Each Additional Schoolchild Over Age 18 (see footnote a)





Additional for A/A spouse (see footnote b)






  1. Rates for each school child are shown separately. They are not included with any other compensation rates. All other entries on this chart reflecting a rate for children show the rate payable for children under 18 or helpless. To find the amount payable to a 70% disabled Veteran with a spouse and four children, one of whom is over 18 and attending school, take the 70% rate for a Veteran with a spouse and 3 children, $ 1,756.17 , and add the rate for one school child, $194.00. The total amount payable is $1,950.17.
  2. Where the Veteran has a spouse who is determined to require A/A, add the figure shown as "additional for A/A spouse" to the amount shown for the proper dependency code. For example, Veteran has A/A spouse and 2 minor children and is 70% disabled. Add $111.00, additional for A/A spouse, to the rate for a 70% Veteran with dependency code 12, $1,696.17. The total amount payable is $1,807.17.


Thousands of Tricare Beneficiaries Lost Coverage During Contractor Changes: GAO

Lost Coverage


At least 15,000 Tricare beneficiaries lost their health care insurance after delays and fights over data caused problems for Tricare's incoming contractors last year, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.

In total, about 224,000 beneficiaries were put at risk of losing their insurance, the report said, because beneficiaries' credit cards or other payments could not be shared with the incoming contractors.

The Defense Health Agency manages Tricare through contracts that change every few years with various private health care insurance companies. The latest contract, called T-2017, is with Health Net Federal Services in the West and Humana Military in the East. They began covering Tricare's 9.5 million beneficiaries on Jan. 1, 2018, and the contracts are set to expire on Dec. 31, 2022.

"According to incoming contractor officials," GAO staff said in the report, "this created additional, unanticipated effort, since they had to contact beneficiaries for this information directly, which diverted transition resources, such as enrollment staff, away from ongoing transition activities."

The beneficiaries who lost their plans were enrolled in Tricare Reserve Select, Tricare Retired Reserve or Tricare Young Adult, GAO staff reported. This is probably because these plans require a recurring payment.

Tricare users in those plans were first told to update their information by late December 2017 because the payment information could not be shared. But many of those who did so ultimately had their information lost anyway thanks to an enrollment blackout put in place over that month.

The Defense Health Agency, which contracts Tricare management to private companies, granted a 150-day grace period for premium payments.

This report on the DHA's latest round of health care insurance contracts also found transition issues that went beyond the trouble caused by one-time events, like consolidating the Tricare regions from three to two and issuing new policies relating to Tricare Standard after it was renamed Tricare Select.

"A smooth transition of health care delivery between outgoing and incoming managed care support contractors helps ensure continuity of care for Tricare beneficiaries," the report states. "While the implementation of a new benefit option during the T-2017 contract transition was a one-time occurrence, our review highlighted weaknesses in DHA's transition guidance and oversight that could pose challenges to future contract transitions."

The GAO recommended that DHA better define its data-sharing requirements and increase response time for when contractors disagree on which data to share.

In one case, the GAO report found the DHA took almost four and a half months to decide how much historical and authorization data the new Tricare West contractor could request.

This negatively impacted Health Net Federal Services' ability to resolve beneficiaries' questions about referrals or help clinics address customer referral inquiries, GAO staff said, damaging its relationship with both.

In the end, the DHA rejected HNFS's request for the older data because "the outgoing contractor would not have enough time to provide it by the start of health care delivery on January 1, 2018."

Meanwhile, the GAO noted that without access to "more detailed historical information from the claims notes, there were instances in which they were unable to adjust payment determinations for certain claims paid prior to transition, which resulted in provider and beneficiary dissatisfaction."

Issues previously reported by were also described in the report. The GAO found both contractors' directories were less than 77% accurate as of June 2019. GAO staff said both contractors countered that the 95% accuracy standard is too high.

It further found the East region contractor, Humana Military, needs to improve the accuracy of its claims processing and has only recently reached the DHA's timeliness standard.

The Defense Department agreed with the GAO's findings. The DHA is naming specific types of data to be shared in its transition guidance, and its staff is creating a "formal process" to ensure all questions are answered in a timely manner.


Veterans with Base Access Still Face Delays on New Commissary Benefit

Base Access


Having prior access to a base won't be enough to allow newly eligible Veterans to shop at its commissary and exchange Jan. 1, has learned.

Beginning Jan. 1, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, Veterans with any service-connected disability will be eligible to shop at on-base facilities -- if they hold a Veterans Health Identification Card. But access will be delayed for those who do not have a VHIC as military officials negotiate access to secure military facilities for what may potentially be millions of new shoppers.

And that delay applies even to those prospective customers who are able to get on base under other forms of Defense Department or Coast Guard identification, such as contractors and DoD civilian employees.

This is because there's no other way to differentiate one Department of Defense or Coast Guard credential holder from someone who is eligible to shop at commissaries, exchanges and MWR facilities, like golf courses or movie theaters, a DoD spokeswoman said via email.


The DoD and Department of Veterans Affairs announced last month it will let eligible Veterans gain access to these facilities in two phases.

The first group to be able to shop on bases are Veterans with a VHIC that displays their status. They are joined by Veteran caregivers registered in the VA’s caregiver program and equipped with a letter certifying their eligibility.

It has not yet been announced when the second group, Veterans without this VA health insurance card, will be allowed base access.

"While DoD and Coast Guard civilian employees and contractors have access to installations through DoD and Coast Guard-issued credentials," the spokeswoman wrote, "if those credentials do not authorize commissary or exchange access in the capacity for which they were issued (specific affiliation with the DoD or Coast Guard), they cannot be accepted for access to benefits outside of that affiliation with DoD or the Coast Guard."

"Bottom line," she concluded, "the credential used must be authorized for access to the benefit."


Veterans need VHIC for in-person Commissary, Military Exchange, MWR access

VHIC For In Person


The Defense Department has announced expanded Commissary, Military Service Exchange and MWR access Jan. 1 and established a standard for physical access to military installations.

Veterans who are eligible and want to take advantage of in-person benefits must have a Veterans Health Identification Card, or VHIC. Primary Family Caregivers must have an eligibility letter from VA’s Office of Community Care.

Veterans use VHICs for identification and check-in at VA appointments, but will also use them for base access under the new program.

Veterans eligible solely under this act who are eligible to obtain a Veteran Health Identification Card must use this credential for in-person installation and privilege access. The card must display the Veteran’s eligibility status (i.e., PURPLE HEART, FORMER POW or SERVICE CONNECTED).

Veterans eligible solely under this act who are not enrolled in or are not eligible to enroll in VA health care, or who are enrolled in VA health care, but do not possess a Veteran Health Identification Card will not have access to DoD and Coast Guard installations for in-person commissary, exchange, and MWR retail privileges, but will have full access to online exchanges and American Forces Travel.

Medal of Honor recipients and Veterans with 100% service-connected disability ratings are eligible for DoD credentials under DoD policy.

How to get a VHIC

Veterans must be enrolled in the VA health care system to receive a VHIC. To enroll, you can complete an application for enrollment in VA health care by telephone without the need for a signed paper application. Just call 1-877-222-VETS (8387) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Eastern. You can also apply for VA healthcare benefits online at, or in person at your local VA medical facility. Once your enrollment is verified, you can have your picture taken at your local VA medical center, and VA will mail you a VHIC.

ID needed to get VHIC

To ensure a Veteran’s identity, enrollees must provide one form of primary identification when requesting a VHIC. Acceptable forms of primary identification are:

Primary Identification (Unexpired)

State-Issued Driver’s License

United States Passport or Passport Card

Other Government ID

This ID can be issued by federal, state or local government agencies provided it contains a photograph, name, date of birth and address. If the address is not on the proofing document, Veterans can provide separate documentation to confirm their address. Acceptable address documents include:

  • Electric bill
  • Cable bill
  • Other mailing document
  • Voters Registration card

How long does it take?

Once you have your picture taken, you should receive your VHIC within 10 days. If you have questions about the status of your VHIC, you may call your local VA medical facility where you receive your care or contact us at 1-877-222-VETS (8387).

The VHIC provides:

Increased security for your personal information – no personally identifiable information contained on the magnetic stripe or barcode.

Unique Member Identifier — Department of Defense assigns an electronic data interchange personal identifier (EDIPI) that allows VA to retrieve the Veteran’s health record.

A salute to your military service – The emblem of your latest branch of service is displayed on your card. Several special awards will also be listed.

Accessibility – Braille “VA” helps visually impaired Veterans to recognize and use the card

Anti-Counterfeiting – Microtext helps prevent reproductions

Lost or stolen?

If your VHIC is lost or stolen, contact the VA medical facility where your picture was taken to request a new card be re-issued, or call 1-877-222-VETS (8387). Veterans will need to provide identification information, when reporting lost or stolen cards.


Eligible caregivers will receive an eligibility letter from VA’s Office of Community Care.

If you are a primary family caregiver under the PCAFC and lose your eligibility letter, please call 1-877-733-7927 to request a replacement. Please allow two weeks for processing.

For installation access, entry to some commissary stores and at point of sale at commissaries, exchanges, and MWR retail facilities, eligible caregivers will need to show an acceptable credential along with their eligibility letter.   Acceptable credentials may include:

  • DoD common access card (CAC) (when otherwise eligible)
  • DoD uniformed services identification card (when otherwise eligible)
  • REAL ID-compliant driver’s license issued by a State, territory, possession, or the District of Columbia
  • REAL ID-compliant non-driver’s identification card issued by a State, territory, possession, or the District of Columbia
  • Enhanced driver’s license issued by a State, territory, possession, or the District of Columbia
  • U.S. passport or passport card
  • Foreign passport bearing an unexpired immigrant or non-immigrant visa or entry stamp
  • Federal personal identity verification card (when otherwise eligible)
  • VHIC
  • Transportation Worker Identification Card

First visit

Upon the first visit to an installation, these eligible Veterans and caregivers must stop at the visitor control center. Depending on the type of installation, Veterans may enroll for recurring access, which would allow them to proceed to the gate for entry upon subsequent visits without having to stop again at the visitor control center.

As with all other individuals seeking access to DoD installations, all eligible Veterans must pass a basic on-the-spot background check prior to enrolling, and an automated check each time they enter the installation. Veterans with felony convictions, felony arrest warrants, or other types of derogatory information related to criminal history or terrorism will not be permitted entry.

Find out more about military resale privileges.

Army and Air Force Exchange Service (

Coast Guard Exchange (

Defense Commissary Agency (

Navy Exchange (

Marine Corps Exchange (


American Forces Travel (

Here are answers to the most-asked:

Q: Can I bring a spouse/friend/guest?

A. Yes, but all guests must go through the required Vetting at the visitor control center and must remain with the sponsor at all times.

Veterans and caregivers should know that while they can bring guests onto the installation and into the facilities, those guests will have to stop at visitor control and go through the required access steps, which includes providing acceptable proof of identity (e.g., REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or U.S. passport) and undergoing a quick basic background check. If the guest shows up without the proper ID, they will not be able to accompany the Veteran or caregiver onto the installation.

Q. Does this includes bases overseas?

A. It includes installations in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the participating U.S. territories and possessions. Access at installations overseas in foreign countries is subject to status of forces agreements, international laws, and other agreements with host countries. So, for now, the answer is not all.

Q. Does this include Class Six, gyms, golf courses?

A. Yes to Class Six, no to gyms, yes to golf courses.


VA Benefits for Loss of Use of Feet

Use of Feet


How to Tell You are Losing Use of Feet and Possible Benefits

Have you been tripping or stumbling more frequently? Have you been required to rely more on your cane or even upgrade to a walker? Have you fallen and struggled to get back on your feet? The VA’s benefit for Loss of Use of Feet is granted in the form of Special Monthly Compensation (SMC). SMC is a monthly benefit for veterans who have a severe impairment due to service-connected conditions; in this case, the inability to use one’s feet. This can be caused by radiculopathy due to a back condition, a permanent injury to the foot or ankle from service, or peripheral neuropathy from diabetes.

How Does the VA Rate Loss of Use of Feet?

Ratings for the loss of use of a foot often qualify veterans to receive benefits similar to those due to veterans whose injuries have required amputation of that limb. Even where a veteran is already entitled to a 100% rating, a loss of use rating may qualify the veteran for special monthly compensation above that 100% rating.

How Does the VA Define Loss of Use of Feet?

The VA defines Loss of Use of Feet for the purpose of special monthly compensation when no effective function remains other than that which would be equally well served by an amputation stump at the site of election below the knee with use of a suitable prosthetic appliance. More specifically a veteran who is unable to balance or propulse (push off his or her foot) is entitled. If the veteran cannot balance on his or her foot or push off with the foot to ambulate, he or she has no effective remaining function of the foot.

Could You Qualify For These Benefits?

When considering whether you may qualify for Loss of Use of Feet, some other questions to ask yourself are:

  • Can you balance on one foot without holding onto something for support?
  • Are you able to push off of one foot to take a large step?
  • Can you stand on your toes to reach a top shelf?
  • Do you require the use of a wheelchair or rollator?
  • Do you experience foot drop? Does your foot ever drag while walking?
  • Do you trip or fall often?
  • Are you able to go up and down stairs easily?

Keep in mind, the loss of use of your feet may also help you qualify for Aid and Attendance. If you require the assistance of a spouse or other person to help you with daily activities due to the loss of function in your feet, you may also want to consider filing for this special monthly benefit. And if you have been denied benefits, let us know! We help veterans with their appeals.


GI Bill Housing Allowances May Change Soon

Housing Allowances Change Soon


Department of Veterans Affairs employees testified to Congress on Tuesday that the more than yearlong delay in implementing changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) may soon be over.

Previously, if you went to a school with multiple campuses, your MHA was based on the ZIP code of the main campus. However, a provision of the Forever GI Bill changed that, effective Aug. 1, 2018. For any classes taken after that date, your housing allowance was supposed to be calculated based on the ZIP code of the campus where you attend the majority of your classes.

The MHA is based on the amount of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) the military pays a married E-5 for the relevant ZIP code.

However, the VA ran into several computer-related issues in implementing this portion of the law.

Based on their congressional testimony, VA officials say they have fixed the computer processing issues and will begin paying the MHA on Dec. 1, 2019, based on the campus where you attend the majority of your classes.

Officials said that about 21,000 students will see their monthly housing payments go down, while 59,000 will see them increase. There are currently more than 700,000 people drawing Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

While the 21,000 who are negatively affected by this change will see their MHA decrease immediately in the payment they receive in early January for their December attendance, the VA has promised that Veterans and dependents won't be on the hook for the retroactive pay decrease. It says that those who were overpaid through no fault of their own will be able to have the debt waived.

The VA added that it will also offer financial and other assistance to those who were adversely affected by the law change.

Those due an increase in their MHA will see their January payment go up, but any retroactive payment going back 16 months probably won't come for at least another six months.

Keep Up With Your Education Benefits

Whether you need a guide on how to use your GI Bill, want to take advantage of tuition assistance and scholarships, or get the lowdown on education benefits available for your family, can help. Sign up for a free membership to have education tips and benefits updates delivered directly to your inbox.


Vet Benefits Vary Widely from State to State, CNAS Study Says

Vet Benefits Vary


There is a stark gap in the type and level of benefits the states offer to Veterans, according to a report the Center for a New American Security released Monday, along with a searchable database of benefit opportunities.

Illinois ranks at the top of the report as having the most benefits for Veterans.

All states can improve how they advertise the benefits and the application process, the study says.

Kayla Williams, director of the CNAS military, Veterans and society program – also an Iraq war Veteran and past director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Women Veterans – said the study’s results were “eye-opening” and highlight one of the issues Veterans and their families consider when deciding where to live.

“Weighing this, knowing this is something to consider if we want to move, is the biggest lesson that I’ve taken away – that it can be so significant,” reported.


New video series teaches Veterans how to file disability claims online

VA News Release 002


Step-by-step instruction offers latest digital transformation

VA is transforming the way Veterans learn about and apply for compensation benefits through a new video tutorial highlighting the digital Disability Compensation Benefits Claims tool, released earlier this year.

Built with Veterans, for Veterans, the Disability Compensation Benefits Claims tool is a development process that incorporates user testing and human-centered design principles. The tool gives Veterans more control over claims submission and represents an innovative leap forward in VA services.

“The Disability Compensation Benefits Claim tool lessens the administrative and paperwork burden for Veterans, and shortens the processing timeline for benefits claims,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “This innovative tool, along with the companion tutorial video series, represents VA’s commitment to providing Veterans quality service through digital transformation.”

The accompanying five-part video tutorial series is accessible on VA’s Office of Information and Technology (OIT) YouTube page. The tutorials describe steps Veterans can follow to complete disability compensation claims applications online using the new digital tool. The videos feature:

  • An overview of the online tool’s user-friendly platform, and its efficient functionality that streamlines the claims submission process.
  • Log-in instructions for starting the process of filing a disability benefits claim, and how Veterans can track existing disability compensation claims.
  • Instructions on how the tool automatically checks the Veteran’s record to find out if there is an active intent to file date already pending.

Visit the full tutorial series for instructions.

Click here for more information about disability compensation.


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