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Evidence needed for your disability claim

When you file a disability claim, we review all available evidence (supporting documents) to determine if you qualify for benefits. Find out what evidence we’ll need—and what your options are for gathering documents to support your claim.

What evidence will VA look for to support my disability claim?

We’ll look for evidence that shows you have:

  • A current physical or mental disability (damage to your body or mind that makes you less able—or totally unable—to do everyday tasks, including meaningful work), and
  • An event, injury, or illness that happened while you were serving in the military to cause this disability

What documents will I need to support my claim?

We require certain documents to support all claims for disability benefits.

You’ll need to submit or give us permission to gather these:

  • Your DD214 or other separation documents
  • Your service treatment records
  • Any medical evidence related to your illness or injury (like doctor’s reports, X-rays, and medical test results)

Note: In 1973, a fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis destroyed records held for Veterans who were discharged from the Army and Air Force during certain periods of time. Your records may have been destroyed in the fire if you were discharged from the Army between November 1, 1912, and January 1, 1960, or if you were discharged from the Air Force between September 25, 1947, and January 1, 1964. If you think your records may have been involved in this fire, you can learn more about the fire and how to get help filing a claim.
Learn more about the fire at the NPRC

What should the evidence show to support my disability claim?

This depends on the type of claim you’re filing. Find out what evidence you’ll need for the different claim types listed below.

Notice to Veterans and service members of evidence needed: We’re required by law to tell you what evidence you’ll need to provide to support your disability claim.

For your convenience, the information below is a summary of evidence requirements (called “section 5103 notice”). You can view the official evidence requirements in VA Form 21-526EZ (PDF).

  • You’ll need to submit evidence of:

    • A current physical or mental disability from a medical professional or layperson (someone who’s not a trained professional), and
    • An event, injury, or disease that happened during your active-duty service, and
    • A link between your current disability and the event, injury, or disease that happened during your service. Usually we need medical records or medical opinions from health care providers to support this link.

    Under certain situations, we may conclude that there’s a link between your military service and your disability even if there’s no evidence. This usually applies to:

  • You’ll need to submit current evidence from a medical professional or layperson (someone who’s not a trained professional) that shows your disability has gotten worse.

  • You’ll need to submit evidence of:

    • A current physical or mental disability from a medical professional or layperson (someone who’s not a trained professional), and
    • An event, injury, or disease that happened during your active-duty service, and
    • A link between your current disability and the event, injury, or disease that happened during your service. Usually, we need medical records or medical opinions from health care providers to support this link.
  • You’ll need to submit evidence of:

    • The new physical or mental disability from a medical professional or layperson (someone who’s not a trained professional), and
    • A link between the new disability and the disability we’ve already determined is service connected. Usually we need medical records or medical opinions from health care providers to support this link.
  • You’ll need to submit new evidence we haven’t reviewed before that’s related to the issue you’re claiming.
    Learn more about supplemental claims

 

Find out what additional evidence or forms you’ll need if you’re filing a claim for any of these issues:

 

  • You’ll also need to submit one of these forms:

    • A completed Statement in Support of Claim for Service Connection for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (VA Form 21-0781),
      Download VA Form 21-0781 (PDF)
      or
    • If you’re claiming PTSD based on personal assault, a completed Statement in Support of Claim for Service Connection for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Secondary to Personal Assault (VA Form 21-0781a)
      Download VA Form 21-0781a (PDF)

    Learn more about PTSD claims

  • You’ll need to submit everything listed here:

    • Medical evidence that shows a service-connected disability prevents you from getting or keeping substantially gainful employment (work that brings in enough money to earn a livelihood). Odd jobs (marginal employment), don’t count.
    • A completed Veteran’s Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability (VA Form 21-8940)
      Download VA Form 21-8940 (PDF)
    • A completed Request for Employment Information in Connection with Claim for Disability Benefits (VA Form 21-4192), completed by your last employer
      Download VA Form 21-4192 (PDF)

    Learn more about Individual Unemployability

  • You’ll need to submit evidence that shows you experienced at least one of these situations at a hospital. You:

    • Spent more than 21 days in a VA hospital or other approved hospital for a service-connected disability, or
    • Were under hospital observation for more than 21 days at our expense for a service-connected disability

    If you had surgery, you’ll need to submit evidence that shows the surgery:

    • Required a recovery time of at least one month (or the surgery or treatment was for a service-connected disability), and
    • Resulted in severe issues for you, like surgical wounds that haven’t totally healed, stumps or recent amputations, being unable to move due to being put in splints or casts, being unable to leave your house, or having to use a wheelchair or crutches

    If you didn’t have surgery, you’ll need to show that one or more of your major joints was immobilized by a cast.

    Learn more about temporary 100% disability benefits

  • You’ll need to submit evidence that shows at least one of these led directly to an added disability or to your injury or disease getting worse:

    • VA carelessness or negligence, or
    • VA medical or surgical treatment, or
    • A VA health exam, or
    • A VA vocational rehabilitation course (under 38 U.S.C. Chapter 31), or
    • VA compensated work therapy (CWT)(under 38 U.S.C. 1718)

    Learn more about VA Title 38 U.S.C. 1151 claims

  • You’ll need to submit evidence that shows at least one of these is true. You:

    • Need another person to help you perform daily activities, like bathing, feeding, and dressing, or
    • Have to stay in bed—or spend a large portion of the day in bed—because of illness, or
    • Are a patient in a nursing home due to the loss of mental or physical abilities related to a disability, or
    • Have limited eyesight (even with glasses or contact lenses you have only 5/200 or less in both eyes; or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less)

    For Housebound benefits, you’ll need to submit evidence that shows you:

    • Have a single service-connected disability rated at 100% disabling and another service-connected disability rated at 60% or more disabling, or
    • Spend most of your time in your home because of a permanent disability (a disability that doesn’t go away)

    You’ll also need to submit one of these forms:

    • An Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance (VA Form 21-2680)
      Download VA Form 21-2680 (PDF)
      or
    • If you’re in a nursing home, a Request for Nursing Home Information in Connection with Claim for Aid and Attendance (VA Form 21-0779)
      Download VA Form 21-0779 (PDF)

    Learn more about Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound allowance

  • You’ll need to submit both of these:

    and

    Learn more about disability housing grants

  • You’ll need to submit evidence that shows at least one of these is true. You have:

    • Loss, or permanent loss of use, of 1 or both feet, or
    • Loss, or permanent loss of use, of 1 or both hands, or
    • Permanent decreased vision in both eyes: 20/200 vision or less in your better eye with glasses, or greater than 20/200 vision but with a visual field defect that has reduced your peripheral vision to 20 degrees or less in your better eye, or
    • A severe burn injury, or
    • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or
    • Ankylosis in 1 or both knees or hips (Note: This qualifies you for an adaptive-equipment grant only)

    You’ll also need to submit:
    An Application for Automobile or Other Conveyance and Adaptive Equipment (VA Form 21-4502)
    Download VA Form 21-4502 (PDF)

    Learn more about automobile allowance and adaptive equipment

  • You’ll need to submit medical evidence that shows the child became permanently disabled because of a physical or mental disability before their 18th birthday.

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