If you have a service-connected condition, 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 learn what to do if you have less than 90 days left on active duty.
Am I eligible to use the BDD program?
You may be eligible for 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, Reserve, or Coast Guard)
- You have a known separation date
- Your separation date is in the next 180 to 90 days
- You’re available to go to VA exams for 45 days from the date you submitted your claim
Note: When you file your claim, you’ll need to provide a copy of your service treatment records for your current period of service. You’ll also need to provide a Separation Health Assessment form.
What if I have less than 90 days left on active duty?
You can’t file a pre-discharge claim or add more medical conditions to your initial pre-discharge claim. But you can still begin the process of filing your claim 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. This is true 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
- You’re terminally ill
- You’re waiting to be discharged while being treated at a VA hospital or military treatment facility
- You’re waiting for us to determine your Character of Discharge
- You can’t go to a VA exam during the 45-day period after you submit your claim
- You didn’t submit copies of your service treatment records for your current period of service
- 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.)
- You need to have a VA exam done in a foreign country and we can’t request the exam through the overseas BDD offices in Landstuhl, Germany, or Camp Humphreys, Korea
Learn more about filing a pre-discharge claim while overseas
How do I file a claim for disability compensation before I leave the service?
If you have 180 to 90 days left on active duty: Apply through the BDD program
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.
You’ll need to submit these documents with your claim application:
- Your service treatment records, and
- A completed Separation Health Assessment - Part A Self-Assessment form
Download the Separation Health Assessment - Part A Self-Assessment form (PDF)
Read instructions for filling out the form (PDF)
If you already filed your pre-discharge claim but didn’t submit this form yet, you can upload the form online now.
To complete the application process, you’ll also need to do these things:
- Be available for 45 days from the date you apply for a VA medical exam, and
- Finish all phases of the VA and Defense Department (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.
Need help applying?
If you’re on a military base or other installation, contact your local Transition Assistance Office or ACAP Center (Army only). They can help you 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 (TTY: 711).
If you have less than 90 days left on active duty: File a fully developed or standard claim
If you have less than 90 days left on active duty, you can file one of these types of claims:
- A fully developed disability claim. You’ll need to send in all the evidence you have—or can easily get—when you file your claim. You may be able to get a faster decision on your disability claim.
Find out how to file a fully developed disability claim
- A standard disability claim. We’ll take more responsibility for gathering the evidence we need to make a decision on your claim.
Find out how to file a standard disability claim
If you’re wounded, injured, or ill and can’t perform your duties: Your doctor will refer you to IDES
If you’re wounded, injured, or become ill while serving and can’t perform your duties, your doctor will refer you to the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES). Through this system, we work together with the Defense Department (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.
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.