7 Hacks for Filling Out Your Initial Application For VA Benefits
If you’ve done any research about VA Disability Compensation and easiest things to claim for VA disability, then you know it takes a while. You’ve also likely heard that the process can take a while and that filing a claim will eventually lead to frustration.
What you’re not likely to read though, is how to apply for VA disability compensation. The initial application is actually easy…if you know what you are doing.
However, someone who hasn’t researched the process may get a little confused. Actually, you may end up filling out a lot more than you need to if you just file without preparing your info in advance. You’re in luck, though.
I’ve actually filled out a lot of these applications in the past, and I’ve learned a few VA disability tips and tricks along the way. Here are 7 hacks for filling out the initial application for VA benefits.
1)The first thing and arguably most important hack is to know what it’s called. I know we shouldn’t assume anything, but I am going to assume that you’re reading this post because you’re either a Veteran or you’re helping a Veteran out with their VA claims process.
If I am correct, then you know that the military and the VA don’t like to make things simple. That is why you aren’t filling out your “application for benefits;” you’re filling out a Veterans Application for Compensation and/or Pension, VA Form 21-526.
Those of us who like to save a breath or two simply call it a 21-526. Knowing the form name ahead of time will make it easier to communicate with people at the VA or a law firm. We love what we do, and sometimes we forget that there are people out there who don’t find forms fascinating.
2) If you’re going to make the effort to learn the lingo, take some time to gather all of the forms you need. At times, the 21-526 gets a bit personal, and there is a good chance you won’t know all of the information they are asking ahead of time. So, get the following items first:
- Your DD-214
- Social Security Cards for yourself, spouse, and any child you are claiming as a dependent.
- Marriage Certificates
- Divorce Decrees
- Death Certificate if you’re filing for DIC or Widows/Widowers Pension
- Income info if you’re applying for Pension or Widows/Widowers Pension
- Addresses and phone numbers of places you treat at for your conditions.
3)Have a good understanding of your claims. After you fill out your name, address, phone number, and a bunch of other standard pieces of information on the form, there will be a place for you to list your claims. In other words, box 11 is where you submit the disabilities in which you want to be connected for through the VA.
This is one of those times you don’t want to be vague or assume the VA knows what you mean. Be specific. Don’t list your knee as a condition, list your specific knee. (Example: Right Knee Condition) Here is something I learned from completing these forms.
Many individuals will tell me that they want to file for “nerves.” To me, that means nerve pain. It’s something like nerve pain, neuropathy or something similar. What they actually mean is a mental condition like depression or PTSD. Make sure you also get the terminology correct too.
I’ve often seen male Veterans apply for Post-Partum Depression when they meant PTSD, or they’ll get the letters wrong, and file for something like PTSS. Keep in mind, the VA is fickle.
Also, if you have diabetes, don’t list your condition as sugar. You can’t assume the VA will know what you mean by a term. If you tell me in person that you need to apply for your sugar, I can reply: “Do you mean diabetes?” The VA can’t ask you a follow-up question for something that is written on a form.
This is also the time that you need to list where you were treated, and when you were diagnosed. Don’t fret if you don’t know the exact date. Just fill it out to the best of your abilities.
4)Marriage is tough. This is true in life and on a 21-526. The reason for this pertains to the VA wanting to know as much about your current spouse and previous spouses as possible.
It’s necessary because Veterans are compensated for dependents once they are connected at 30% or higher. However, if you’ve been married and divorced a lot, this section of the form can be tiresome. Part VI is where you will find marriage and dependency information.
You have to provide the month and year of each of your marriages, the city and state in which you were married, your spouse’s full maiden name, the date the marriage was terminated, and the city and state of the termination. But wait, there is more.
You also have to provide all of this information for your current spouse’s previous marriages. This is another reason why we say that it’s good to be prepared ahead of time.
I once helped a Vet who had been married two previous times, and his spouse had been married three previous times. Part VI took more than an hour. Make sure you have this information ahead of time, it will save you time, and keep you from getting frustrated.
5) Info about your children. Once again, have your information handy ahead of time. In this instance, birth certificates, and social security cards will be beneficial, as well as adoption certificates.
Most of us think of our children as being dependents until they are 18. In the VA, you can claim a child as a dependent until they are 22 if they are enrolled in college, or some sort of post-high school training.
If they are not enrolled in any type of schooling, you can only claim them until they turn 18. If you are paying child support for a child who is not in your custody, this section is also where you list their info as well. You will also list the amount you pay in child support.
6) Here is one secret that a lot of people won’t tell you. If you aren’t applying for a pension, and only applying for VA disability compensation, you can skip the income sections.
The reason for this is quite simple; there are no income requirements for VA Disability compensation. Regardless if you make $20,000 per year or $20,000,000 per year, you are entitled to disability compensation if you qualify based on your disability. This will save you a lot of time and hassle.
7)Make the effort to actually fill the form out. I love to put things off. I am so good at putting things off that I would miss my keynote address at the National Procrastinators Convention. But even I know that you have to fill your application out in order to get the benefits you deserve.
Honestly, completing this form is easier now than it’s ever been. You can even do it on the VA E-Benefits website. However, there is an even easier way to do this, come to Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law.
Since 2008 we’ve helped thousands of Veterans get their benefits. Unlike many other law firms, we will help Veterans from the very beginning of their case. We help Vets nationwide, and we can either help you fill it out in person at one of our 6 offices, or we will do it over the phone. We will also submit your application to the VA on your behalf.
Now that you know all of this insider information, you have no excuse for putting off your VA Disability claim. Since you’ve read this far, you should be rewarded. Here is a bonus hack for you. Click here and request a free electronic copy of our book; Getting the Veterans Disability Benefits You Deserve.
It’s completely free, and you can download it today. If you’d like to know more about our services, or if you’d like to schedule a free consultation from an experience VA lawyers and know easiest things to claim for VA disability, call us now. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’re reading this after hours, just fill out this form, and we will call you as soon as possible.