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Pre-discharge claim

If you have an illness or injury that you believe was caused—or made worse—by your active-duty service, you can file a claim for disability benefits 180 to 90 days before you leave the military. This may help speed up the claim decision process so you can get your benefits sooner. Find out how to file a claim through the Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) program—and what to do if you have less than 90 days left on active duty.

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.
Go to our coronavirus FAQs

Can I use the BDD program to get my disability compensation sooner?

You can use the BDD program if you meet all of these requirements.

All of these must be true:

  • You’re a service member on full-time active duty (including a member of the National Guard, Reserves, or Coast Guard), and
  • You have a known separation date, and
  • Your separation date is in the next 180 to 90 days, and
  • You’re available to go to VA exams for 45 days from the date you submitted your claim, and
  • You can provide a copy of your service treatment records for your current period of service when you file your claim

What if I have less than 90 days left on active duty?

You can’t file a BDD claim or add more medical conditions to your initial claim. But you can still begin the process of filing your claim before discharge.
Learn how to file a claim less than 90 days before discharge

Are there any other reasons I can’t use the BDD program?

You can’t use the BDD program if your claim requires special handling—even if you’re on full-time active duty, with more than 90 days left of service.

You can’t use the BDD program if any of these are true:

  • You need case management for a serious injury or illness, or
  • You’re terminally ill, or
  • You’re waiting to be discharged while being treated at a VA hospital or military treatment facility, or
  • You’re pregnant, or
  • You’re waiting for us to determine your Character of Discharge, or
  • You can’t go to a VA exam during the 45-day period after you submit your claim, or
  • You didn’t submit copies of your service treatment records for your current period of service, or
  • You added a medical condition to your original claim when you had less than 90 days left on active duty (Note: We’ll process the added conditions after your discharge.), or
  • You need to have a VA exam done in a foreign country, except if the exam can be requested by the overseas BDD office in either Landstuhl, Germany, or Camp Humphreys, Korea
    Learn more about filing a pre-discharge claim while overseas

What kind of disability benefits can I get?

Compensation (monthly payments)

How do I file a claim for disability compensation before I leave the service?

Choose the scenario below that matches your situation to find out how to file a claim for disability compensation before discharge.

If you have 180 to 90 days left on active duty, you’ll need to apply for benefits through the BDD program. The application process depends on where you’re stationed.

If you’re stationed in the U.S.

You can file a claim online, by mail, or in person.
Find out how to file a claim for disability compensation

To complete the process, you’ll need to:

  • Submit your service treatment records along with your application, and
  • Be available for 45 days from the date you apply for a VA medical exam, and
  • Finish all phases of the VA/DoD medical separation examination process before your release from the military

If you’re stationed overseas

You can start your claim at a BDD office.
Find out how to file a claim overseas

Need help applying?

If you’re on a military base or other installation, contact your local Transition Assistance Office or ACAP Center (Army only) to make an appointment to attend a VA benefits briefing. At this briefing, you’ll learn how to start your claim. You can also call us toll-free at 800-827-1000.

If you have less than 90 days left on active duty, you have a few options for filing a disability claim:

File a fully developed or standard claim

The difference in these claim types is based on how you gather evidence (supporting documents like a doctor’s report and medical test results) to support your claim.
Find out how to file a claim for disability compensation
Find out what evidence you need for fully developed and standard claims

If you’re wounded, injured, or fall ill while serving and can’t perform your duties, you’ll be referred to IDES. Through this system, we at VA work together with the Department of Defense (DoD) to make disability evaluation seamless, simple, fast, and fair.

If you’re found to be medically unfit for duty, IDES will give you a proposed VA disability rating before you leave the service. You’ll also be entitled to Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) services.
Find out how to access VR&E services through IDES

How can I get support for myself and my family as I transition to civilian life?

Our Transition Assistance Program (TAP) can help both you and your family with this transition. We’ll help you find out which VA benefits and services you’re entitled to, like health care, career guidance, training, and counseling.
Learn more about TAP