Millions of American veterans have been injured as a result of their military service. Fortunately, veterans injured and disabled as a result of military service are entitled to compensation and benefits. Qualifying veterans can claim compensation and benefits for their injuries by filing the appropriate standard VA claim forms.
In 2015, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs mandated using standard VA disability forms for filing claims and appeals. Here is an overview of five standard VA claim forms.
Standard VA claim forms
Veterans injured as a result of service must use the following forms for filing claims and appeals:
1. VA Form 21-0966 (Intent to File a Claim for Compensation and/or Pension, Survivors Pension, or Other Benefits)
Claimants (veterans and/or their family members) should use VA Form 21-0966 when they intend to file a claim and want to start the filing process but are still gathering information to support the claim. If the claim is granted, the benefit compensation will date back to the date this form was filed. So, the benefit of using this form is that it secures the earliest possible effective date for any retroactive payments but gives the claimant time to obtain evidence.
2. Standard Form 180 (Request Pertaining to Military Records)
Although the VA will have access to your Department of Defense service records and VA records, including VA medical records, it is a good idea to secure these records on your own as well. You should obtain a copy of your military records and medical records both for your own safe keeping and so that you can build your case for the VA. There was a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in 1973 that destroyed about 16-18 million official military personnel files and you don’t want this to happen to your records. Use Standard Form (SF) 180 to request a copy of your military records and then use those records to build your case.
You may also want to complete VA Form 21-4142, Authorization to Disclose Information to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and VA Form 21-4142a, General Release for Medical Provider Information to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to obtain your relevant medical and/or employment records.
3. VA Form 21-526EZ (Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits)
A claimant who is ready to file for VA benefits should use VA Form 21-526EZ. This is a VA disability claim form used for filing claims for pension, disability compensation, and other related benefits. It serves two purposes:
- Filing disability compensation and pension claims for the first time.
- Requesting an increase in your current disability rating if the previous determination was made more than one year ago.
- VA Form 21-526EZ has 11 sections. In Section V, you must provide information on the disabilities for which you are filing a claim. Be sure to consider (1) what conditions (including diagnoses or just symptoms) you have now; (2) what injuries happened in service; and (3) how your service might be related to your current injury. Also consider if any service-related injuries might be related to any other injuries. For example, medication side effects and secondary conditions related to your service-connected conditions can be included as claims on 21-526EZ. It is important to complete all the sections and provide accurate, up-to-date details. You must also provide documents and other materials proving your injuries and claims. You can file this and other VA forms online or download a hard-copy version.
4. VA Form 20-0995, Decision Review Request: Supplemental Claim
If the VA makes a determination that you disagree with, you may file an appeal using several different forms. If you are within the one-year window of your decision, you can use VA Form 20-0995 to supplement your evidence and obtain a new decision. If you submit this form with new and relevant evidence, your claim will keep going and you will get a new decision. It is advisable to file the form as soon as possible and provide detailed information and concrete proof supporting your claims for a quick review.
5. VA Form 21-534 (Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Survivors Pension, & Accrued Benefits by a Surviving Spouse or Child)
Deceased veterans’ immediate family members (spouses and children) are entitled to compensation in certain circumstances, which they can claim by filing VA Form 21-534. These circumstances include, but are not limited to, when the veteran’s death occurs during military service or is a result of military service; when a claim for benefits is pending at the time of the veteran’s death and is ultimately granted; and when the veteran served during a wartime and the surviving spouse’s income and assets are within certain limits.
It is important for family members to provide accurate information and up-to-date evidence to support the claim. It is also important for family members to file the claim quickly after the veteran’s death, as some benefits have time-limits for filing.
Get professional help and guidance!
Filing standard VA claim forms is usually a complicated bureaucratic process. Unfortunately, the VA denies many qualified veterans’ claims because of small mistakes with their paperwork. This is where Vets National comes into the picture.
Vets National is dedicated to helping veterans and their families claim pension and disability compensation benefits. Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help or request a free consultation.