If you are Veteran seeking disability benefits or other compensation for a service-connected injury through the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the application process will have a series of complex procedures on top of multiple forms that you need to complete. Not only can claiming any benefits from the VA be extremely confusing, but the process to achieve a proper disability rating and appropriate compensation can often be unfair.
This is why it is highly beneficial to have a VA-accredited attorney handling your case and navigating these proceedings on your behalf. An attorney can help you meet the proper deadlines for your case and make sure all important VA forms are filled out correctly. Here are the most important ones you may encounter.
If a Veteran plans to file a claim for pension benefits or compensation, or an eligible survivor of a service member plans to submit a claim for dependency and indemnity compensation or pension benefits, Form 21-0996 is a way to signal this intention to the VA. The advantage of this form is to secure the soonest effective date possible for the payout of benefits even if the Veteran or surviving family member is still collecting evidence.
Once this form is submitted, the effective date for the payout becomes the diagnosis date of a qualifying medical condition or intent to file, which can maximize the potential payout of benefits. The applicant still has a year to finalize the claim submission with the full body of available evidence.
This is the Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits, and serves as the official application for benefits. You must show that you sustained a disabling injury or illness during military service, and include evidence of this connection as well. It is important to be truthful and comprehensive when filling out this form.
If a Veteran’s disability claim is denied and he or she wishes to contest this denial, they may submit a supplemental claim to request a review of the VA’s decision and provide new evidence using Form 20-0995. This form contains several parts, including a section where the Veteran can outline issues he or she wishes the VA to review or reconsider.
Not only must the Veteran provide new, pertinent evidence to support each point of issue, but he or she will also need to include signed authorization forms to allow the VA to obtain any relevant records or documentation. A Veteran who wishes to file a supplemental claim requesting a decision review may do so without time limitations.
However, waiting too long to file VA Form 20-0995 could mean you end up forfeiting certain benefits that might otherwise be owed. In order to obtain benefits under the original effective date, any decision review request must be submitted within 12 months from the original decision.
In situations where the Veteran’s claim for benefits is denied and he or she believes this resulted from a mistake, but there is no additional evidence to provide, the next step is to file VA Form 20-0996. This form asks for a higher-level review to look over the evidence that was previously provided.
There is a one-year deadline from the date of the VA’s initial decision in which the Veteran must request this higher-level review, or else forfeit the right to do so. The VA allows Veterans to speak with a high-level reviewer to discuss mistakes in the prior decision before the actual review takes place.
If a Veteran does not wish to file a request for a supplemental or higher-level review of a denied initial claim, he or she may file a decision review request (also known as a notice of disagreement) with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. The deadline to request a review is generally 12 months from the date of the original decision notice.
VA Form 10182 allows the Veteran to detail one or multiple points of contention from the original decision and request one of three types of decision reviews by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals: a direct review, an evidence submission, or a board hearing.
A direct review means the Veteran does not provide additional evidence or need to attend a hearing. The Board typically has 12 months to provide a determination.
With an evidence submission, the Veteran is providing further details to bolster the appeal. A 90-day deadline after the Notice of Disagreement is filed, the Veteran must provide additional evidence following the submission of the decision review request.
Finally, a board hearing allows the Veteran a chance to be heard before an actual judge while sharing new evidence to support the appeal. If you select to have a BVA Hearing Scheduled, you cannot submit evidence until the date of the hearing and/or 90 days after the hearing date.
If a Veteran suffers from a service-connected injury or illness that prevents him or her from performing daily tasks, VA Form 21-2680, Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance, can request additional benefits be added to the monthly compensation or pension amount. If the Veteran’s permanent disability is completely disabling (or they have two disabling conditions, one being completely disabling and the other is 60% or more disabling), the disability has resulted in home confinement, and the Veteran receives a VA pension, he or she could qualify for housebound benefits.
To receive aid and attendance benefits, the Veteran must be receiving a VA pension and meet one of other qualifying factors:
This form requires extensive supporting evidence, with a section that must be completed by a medical provider who can attest to the degree of disability. The VA awards only one of either Aid and Attendance benefits or Housebound benefits to qualifying Veterans.
VA Form 21-4138, also known as Statement in Support of Claim, provides a means to submit a statement to bolster a VA claim. The Veteran can file this statement to accompany the claim, but this form is also frequently used by friends, witnesses, and loved ones who can attest to the impact of the relevant physical or mental condition.
When a Veteran has a service-related injury that renders him or her unable to work, they may be entitled to seek the 100% disability rating compensation amount. This is called seeking total disability individual unemployability benefits (TDUI). The form is extremely detailed and requires information about the Veteran’s disability and medical treatment, service-connected disability, past hospitalizations and treatment, medical provider information, the history of the disability’s impact on their employability, earnings history, work history, and more.
Veterans seeking TDUI benefits will also typically need to submit VA Form 21-4192. This form, called Request for Employment Information in Connection with Claim for Disability Benefits, is filled out by the Veteran’s most recent employer to support the underlying claim for 100% disability benefits.
Far too often, Veterans find that the VA system is filled with barriers that grossly impact the ability to achieve the proper payout of benefits. A skilled Veterans benefits attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve by guiding you through the various forms you need to fill out.
Whether you need help filing out important VA forms, appealing a denial, or other assistance related to your VA claim, our legal team can provide the competent, tireless representation you need. Call now for a free consultation – from anywhere in the country.