Eligibility for VA Disability Benefits
Have you served in the U.S. military? Are you suffering from an illness or injury related to your service? Then you may qualify for disability benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Vets National Advocates wants to help you determine if you’re eligible for these tax-free monthly payments. That’s why we’ve created this guide.
Simply follow the instructions here to learn how to gather the evidence that you need for your benefits claim.
Evidence of Eligibility
The VA will require you to submit three types of evidence to file a disability claim: discharge or separation papers, service treatment records, and medical evidence.1
You must first get the DD Form 214, your discharge papers and separation documents, to show that you were released from active military duty.
The DD Form 214 usually includes the date and location of your entry into active military duty, as well as the date when you were released from active duty and the reason for your separation from military service.2
You can use this document to meet two of the VA’s initial requirements for disability benefits: proof of your full-time service in the military and proof that you weren’t discharged dishonorably.
To get this information, visit the National Archives website. In the military service records section there, you can either submit an online request for your military service records or download the necessary form, Standard Form 180. 3
Make sure that when you make your request, you also ask for your medical records. These documents will include your service treatment records. With these records, you may be able to show the VA that you incurred an illness or injury from your military service and have a disability rating of 10 percent or higher.4
Once you’ve established the fact that you have this disability, it will be easier for you to receive compensation benefits.
If you didn’t have symptoms until after being discharged from the military, you may still be eligible for benefits. The VA has categorized some diseases as presumed disabilities, which means that these problems are presumed to have been caused by exposure to certain things from military service.4-5
So, if you have a service-related chronic or tropical disease or have developed certain illnesses after being exposed to hazardous materials during your military service, you may qualify for disability payments.4, 6
Former prisoners of war (POWs) can also qualify for benefits.
“[The] VA presumes that certain medical conditions are associated with a Former POW's captivity,” the Veterans Benefits Administration states online.5
The administration also notes that the VA is required by law to provide veterans with a medical examination or medical opinion if needed for a decision about a disability benefits claim.1
Veterans can also use a private doctor to compile medical evidence supporting this claim, according to the VA, which facilitates this process by providing medical examination forms known as Disability Benefits Questionnaires.7
These questionnaires correspond to medical conditions or symptoms and can be filled out by a doctor.8
Submitting Your VA Disability Benefits Claim
When you’re done compiling all the required evidence, you can apply for disability benefits by using the eBenefits website.
Appeals for Denied VA Benefits
Contact Vets National Advocates if the VA denies your disability benefits claim. We can help you file an appeal and navigate the challenging appeals process.
1. "Compensation: Evidence Requirements." Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/evidence.asp.
2. "DD Form 214, Discharge Papers and Separation Documents." National Archives at St. Louis. National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. Web. http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/dd-214.html.
3. "Standard Form 180." National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. Web. http://www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf.
4. "Compensation: Disability Compensation." Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/types-disability.asp.
5. "Compensation: Claims Based on Post-Service - Diseases After Service." Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/claims-postservice-index.asp.
6. "Compensation: Military Hazardous Exposures." Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/claims-postservice-exposures-index.asp.
7. "Compensation: Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs)." Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/dbq_disabilityexams.asp.
8. "Disability Benefits Questionnaires -- List by Symptom." Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/dbq_ListBySymptom.asp.