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VA Disability Benefits Forms and Claims

The forms required to apply for VA disability compensation benefits include:

  • Pre-discharge Compensation Claim Form (VA Form 21-526c), and
  • Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits Form (VA Form 21-526EZ), also known as the Original, Reopened, Fully Developed or Supplemental Claim Form 

Applicants can:

  • Download and mail completed claim forms to the nearest VA regional office
  • Complete and submit claim forms online using eBenefits, or
  • Contact the VA at 1-800-827-1000 to receive claim forms by mail

Additional forms for other VA benefits programs are available for download on the VA benefits forms page.

Fully Developed Claim

The VA established the Fully Developed Claim Program to expeditiously process claims certified by the claimant or their representative as meeting the Fully Developed Claim criteria. In order to participate in the Fully Developed Claim Program, the service member must obtain the relevant service treatment and personnel records and provide them to the VA or request that the VA obtain them.

Standard Claim

As part of the standard claim process, the VA collects relevant records from any federal agencies that the applicant identifies and authorizes. The VA can also collect relevant records not held by federal agencies that the applicant identifies and authorizes. These records may include:

  • Privately held evidence and information, such as records from a private provider or hospital, and/or
  • Records from state or local governments, or current or former employers

The Disability Claims Process

There are a number of steps that most claims for disability compensation follow. They can vary in time, depending on the complexity of the claim and the amount and type of evidence that must be gathered to support the claim. It’s recommended that applicants submit as much evidence as possible with the claim to help minimize processing time.

The claim processing steps for most cases include:

  • Claim is received by VA

    Depending on how the claim was submitted, the applicant receives an online or U.S.-mailed notice, that the VA received the claim.

  • Claim is under VA review

    The claim is assigned to a Veteran’s service representative and is being reviewed to determine if additional evidence is needed. If the VA doesn’t need additional information, the claim moves directly to the Preparation for Decision phase.

  • VA gathers evidence

    The Veteran’s service representative may request evidence from the applicant, a medical professional, a government agency, or another authority.

  • VA reviews evidence

    The representative reviews the evidence and determines if more evidence is required. If so, it’s requested.

  • VA prepares documents for decision

    The Veteran’s service representative prepares required documents that detail the recommended claim decision. If more evidence is required, it’s requested.

  • Applicant’s claim is pending decision approval

    The representative’s recommended decision is reviewed and a final award approval is made.

  • VA prepares claim for applicant notification

    The entire claim decision packet is prepared for mailing to the applicant.

  • Claim process is completed

    The VA sends a decision packet to the applicant by U.S. mail. The packet includes details of the decision or award. Allow standard mailing time for the packet to arrive before contacting a VA call center.

The VA may determine that a medical examination is needed to make a decision about a claim. If so, it provides a medical examination for the applicant or instructs them how to obtain the medical exam. Learn more about the VA’s responsibilities for obtaining evidence to support a disability compensation claim.

How Long Does the Disability Claim Process Take?

The length of time it takes to complete a claim depends on several factors, such as:

  • Type of claim filed
  • Complexity of the disability
  • Number of disabilities claimed, and
  • Availability of evidence needed to decide the claim

The status of the claim can be followed at eBenefits or the VA’s ASPIRE Web site.

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