How to file a VA disability claim
Find out how to file a claim for disability compensation or increased disability compensation.
You can still file a claim and apply for benefits during the coronavirus pandemic
Get the latest information about in-person services, claim exams, extensions, paperwork, decision reviews and appeals, and how best to contact us during this time.
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How do I prepare before starting my application?
- Find out if you’re eligible for VA disability compensation
- Gather any evidence (supporting documents) you’ll submit yourself when you file your VA disability claim.
- Be sure your claim is filled out completely and you have all the supporting documents ready to send in along with your claim. This will help us process your claim quickly.
Learn about fully developed claims
- Find out if you’ll need to turn in any additional forms with your claim
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.
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.
How do I file my claim?
You can file your disability compensation claim online right now.
You can also file a disability claim:
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
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
Should I submit an intent to file form?
If you plan to file for disability compensation using a paper form, you may want to submit an intent to file form first. This can give you the time you need to gather your evidence while avoiding a later potential start date (also called an effective date). When you notify us of your intent to file, you may be able to get retroactive payments (compensation that starts at a point in the past).
Note: You don’t need to notify us of your intent to file if you file for disability compensation online. This is because your effective date gets set automatically when you start filling out your disability compensation form online—before you submit it.
What happens after I file my VA disability claim?
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.
How long does it take VA to make a decision?
Average number of days to complete disability-related claims in September 2021