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Veterans Claims: Process and Types

Veterans can receive tax-free disability benefits when they are injured as result of active military service. This also includes diseases and injuries that are aggravated because of service. Disability rates vary from 0% to 100% depending on the seriousness of the injury or disease.

Types of Veterans Claims

Veterans have the opportunity to apply for various types of disability claims. These opportunities vary depending on when the disability arose.

  1. Pre-discharge claims. Military members who became disabled within 180 days of separation or retirement from active duty should file a pre-discharge disability claim.
  2. Claims based on pre-service disabilities. If an individual enters military service with a disability, and the service makes the disability worse, then the veteran can apply for disability benefits. This type of claim is based on aggravation of a preexisting condition. However, Veterans Affairs will only compensate for the difference between the original condition in the aggravation. That is, the VA will only pay for the worsening of the condition.
  3. Claims based on in service disabilities. The VA will pay for disability benefits when the disease or injury was a direct cause of active duty. However, the VA will not pay for injuries associated with willful misconduct or drug or alcohol related injuries.
  4. Claims based on Post Service disabilities. These claims are still service related, but the actual disability does not arise until after the veteran left active service.
  5. Claims based on special circumstances. Not all claims are based on in-service events. You may also be additional plans available, even after acquiring other types of disability benefits.

The Claims Process

Generally speaking, there are eight steps in the claims process for veterans’ disabilities. However, the claims process will vary depending on how complicated claim may be. To minimize processing time, the VA encourages veterans to submit as much information and evidence as possible regarding the claim.

Most disability compensation claims for veterans will follow the following process.

  1. Claim receipt. You should receive a notification that the VA has received your claim within an hour after you submit it online.
  2. Claim review. As soon as the claim is admitted, it will be reviewed by a Veterans Service Representative. If the representative does not need any additional information, you will skip to step five.
  3. Gathering evidence. When the representative needs additional information, he or she will request information from outside sources. These sources may include you, medical professionals, governmental agencies, or other authorities.
  4. Reviewing evidence. Once all necessary evidence is received, the representative will determine if enough information has been gathered to make a decision.
  5. Preparing for the decision. The representative must prepare documents detailing their recommended decision.
  6. Pending decision approval. Once a recommendation has been made, it will be reviewed, and a final decision on approval will be made. Sometimes representatives may even require additional evidence at this stage.
  7. Preparation for notification. The representative will prepare your packet of information that details the decision the VA made.
  8. Completion. The process is complete when you receive a decision packet sent in the mail. All the information you will need regarding your decision will be in this packet.

The time required for this process will vary, and you can track the progress of your claim at www.ebenefits.va.gov.