Skip to Content

Standard disability claims

Find out how to submit a standard disability claim if you’d like us to take more responsibility for gathering the evidence (supporting documents) we need to make a decision on your claim.

What do I need to do to submit a standard disability claim?

You’ll need to:

  • Submit your completed Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits (VA Form 21-526EZ), and
  • Let us know about related records not held by a federal agency, and give us any information we may need in order to get them, and
  • Go to any medical exams that we schedule, if we decide these exams are needed to make a decision on your claim

Note: You should know that if a person or agency refuses to turn over the evidence we need, asks for money for the evidence, or can’t get the evidence, we’ll ask you to try to get it for us. It’s your responsibility to make sure we receive all requested records that aren’t at a federal agency or office.

What kinds of records might VA need that aren’t held by a federal agency?

We need any records related to your claim from sources like these:

  • State or local governments
  • Any private (non-VA) doctors who’ve treated you
  • Any private (non-VA) hospitals or other health facilities where you’ve been treated
  • Your current or former employers

What evidence will VA gather when I file a standard disability claim?

With your permission, we’ll get related records from:

  • Any federal agency (including the military)
  • VA medical centers (including private facilities where we’ve authorized treatment)
  • The Social Security Administration

We’ll also:

  • Make every reasonable effort to request relevant records that you authorize us to get that aren’t at a federal facility (including records from non-VA doctors and hospitals), and
  • Provide a medical exam for you, or get a doctor’s opinion if we need it to make a decision on your claim

Example: A Veteran filed a disability claim that included prior treatment from a private doctor and a prior Social Security disability award. In this case, we were responsible for getting the Social Security records. We also helped to get the private doctor’s records, but the Veteran was responsible for making sure we got those.

What should the evidence show to support my disability claim?

This depends on the type of claim you’re filing.
See what evidence is needed for different types of claims

When do I need to turn in my evidence to support my standard claim?

You’ll need to turn in the information and evidence as soon as you can.

You have up to 1 year from the date we receive your claim to turn in any information and evidence. If we decide your claim before this, you’ll have the rest of the one-year period to turn in more information or evidence to support your claim.

How do I get started filing my standard claim?

You can start your online application right now, or find out how to file a claim by mail, in person, or with the help of a trained professional.
Find out how to file a claim for disability compensation

Does it take longer to get a decision from VA on a standard claim than a fully developed claim?

Yes. The process is slower for getting a decision on a standard disability claim. This is because we need time to gather evidence for your claim.

If you’d like to get a decision on your claim faster, you can submit a fully developed claim. For this type of claim, you gather all of the evidence—or as much as you can get easily—and submit it at the same time as your claim.
Learn more about submitting a fully developed disability claim