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How to file a VA disability claim

Find out how to file a claim for disability compensation or increased disability compensation.

How do I prepare before starting my application?

What evidence will I need to provide to support my claim?

You can help to support your VA disability claim by providing documents, such as:

  • VA medical records and hospital records that relate to your claimed illnesses or injuries or that show your rated disability has gotten worse
  • Private medical records and hospital reports that relate to your claimed illnesses or injuries or that show your disability has gotten worse
  • Supporting statements you’d like to provide from family members, friends, clergy members, law enforcement personnel, or those you served with that can tell us more about your claimed condition and how and when it happened or how it got worse

Depending on the type of claim you file, you may gather supporting documents yourself, or you can ask for our help to gather evidence.

Find out what evidence we’ll need for your claim

We’ll also review your discharge papers (DD214 or other separation documents) and service treatment records.

Please note: You don’t have to submit any evidence to support your claim, but we may need to schedule a claim exam so we can learn more about your condition.

You should also know that you have up to a year from the date we receive your claim to turn in any evidence. If you start your application and need time to gather more supporting documents, you can save your application and come back later to finish it. We’ll recognize the date you started your application as your date of claim as long as you complete it within 365 days.

Checking your application status.

What other ways can I file my disability claim?

By mail

File your claim by mail using an Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits (VA Form 21-526EZ).
Download VA Form 21-526EZ (PDF)

Print the form, fill it out, and send it to this address:

Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Janesville, WI 53547-4444

In person

Bring your application to a VA regional office near you.
Find a VA regional office near you

With the help of a trained professional

You can work with a trained professional called an accredited representative to get help filing a claim for disability compensation.
Get help filing your claim

What happens after I file my VA disability claim?

Find out what happens after you file

You don’t need to do anything while you’re waiting unless we send you a letter asking for more information. If we schedule exams for you, be sure not to miss them.

Check your VA claim status

How long does it take VA to make a decision?

124.8 days

Average number of days to complete disability-related claims in July 2020

If I start my VA disability application, does VA consider this “intent to file”?

No. Simply starting your VA disability application doesn’t show your intent to file. You’ll need to submit an intent to file form, which sets the effective date (the day you can start getting your benefits). Then you can focus on gathering supporting documents to turn in with your pension application. If you submit an intent to file before you file your claim, you may be able to get retroactive payments (money you’ll get starting from your effective date).

Note: If you file your claim online, you don't need to separately send an intent to file form. The online application already includes your intent to file. 

How do I submit an intent to file?

You can submit your intent to file by phone or by written form.

Note: If you file your claim online, you don't need to separately send an intent to file form. The online application already includes your intent to file.

By phone

Call 800-827-1000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET.

By submitting a form

Download, fill out, and submit an Intent to File a Claim for Compensation and/or Pension, or Survivors Pension and/or DIC (VA Form 21-0966). 
Download VA Form 21-0966 (PDF)

Turn in your form in any of these ways:

  • Mail it to this address:

    Department of Veterans Affairs
    Claims Intake Center
    PO Box 4444
    Janesville, WI 53547-4444

  • Turn it in at a VA regional office near you. 
    Find a VA regional office near you

  • Work with a trained professional called an accredited representative to get help applying for VA disability benefits. 
    Get help filing a claim

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