How to apply for VA Disability PayUpdated: January 20, 2023
VA disability compensation is a tax-free monthly payment from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to veterans with a condition from or made worse by service.
There are multiple ways to file a VA disability claim. Veterans can file online with their VA.gov account, mail VA Form 21-526EZ to the VA’s Claims Intake Center, file in person at your regional VA office or utilize a trained professional, such as an attorney, claims agent or VSO.
If filing by mail, the Claims Intake Center address is PO Box 4444 Janesville, WI 53547.
Filing the VA Disability Claim
Filing a VA disability claim isn’t an overnight process. As of December 2022, the VA’s average claims decision is 110 days. Though down from a decade ago, the claims backlog spiked in recent years, with the current backlog sitting at 200,456.
The claims backlog is the group of individuals waiting for a rating decision.
In 2013, high demand resulted in a VA backlog of around 608,000 cases. The average wait time peaked at 282 days.
Despite the VA claims backlog, there are a couple of things you can do to improve your chances of having your application processed in a timely fashion.
Prepare Evidence of the Claim
The key to getting a Veterans disability claim processed in a timely fashion is preparation. The VA requires evidence of your claim. Evidence can include VA medical records, private medical records and statements from individuals (including friends, family and co-workers) familiar with your condition, when it happened or how it got worse.
Medical records are essential when preparing your claim. Records and hospital reports can help establish the timeline of the condition to determine if it developed while in the military or related to military service. These records also help the VA establish the type and severity of the disability and will assist them in applying the correct VA rating to your particular case.
Gather Documents for Dependents (if Applicable)
Assemble documents for proof of dependents (if applicable). These documents can include birth certificates for children or a marriage certificate for a spouse.
Note: You only need to provide copies of your documents – never send the originals.
What Happens After Filing a VA Disability Claim?
After filing, you essentially wait.
The VA provides confirmation after you file the claim. Those who file online receive immediate confirmation after submitting. If you mail Form 21-526EZ, it typically takes 7 to 10 days to receive confirmation.
After confirmation, your claim receives a review by the VA. In this stage, the VA may require more evidence of your claim. It’s not uncommon to have some back and forth with the VA and provide additional evidence more than once.
If all goes as planned, the VA will send you a claim packet with your disability rating. It can take 7 to 10 business days for the packet to arrive.
Expedite your disability claim with VA Decision Ready Claims
The VA’s Decision Ready Claims (DRC) program delivers decisions within 30 days, or you can contact an accredited Veterans Service Organization representative who can assist you in submitting your claim.
Most importantly, know that you’re not alone if you find yourself in the VA’s backlog or your application is denied. What was once swept under the rug is becoming a consequential campaign issue, with relief not far off.