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What should I know about disability compensation for Veterans?

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Disability compensation for Veterans in Georgia

What should I know? +

Contents


What disability benefits are available for Veterans?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers disability pay for some Veterans. Disability compensation is a monthly tax-free payment. The amount of the payment depends on:

  • Your disability rating. A disability rating is a percentage, assigned by the VA, that represents how your disability affects your:

    • Overall health and 

    • Ability to function.

  • If you have a spouse, children, and/or parents.

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Who is eligible for Veterans disability benefits?

You may be able to get VA disability benefits if you have a current illness or injury (including a mental illness) and you:

  • Served on:

    • Active duty,

    • Active duty for training, or 

    • Inactive duty training, AND

  • Your disability is connected to your service.

 

You disability is considered to be connected to your service if you:

  • Got sick or injured during your service. You can link your current condition to that illness or injury. This is called an inservice disability claim.

  • Had an illness or injury before you joined the military and it was made worse by your service. This is called a preservice disability claim.

  • Have a disability that is related to your service, but it didn’t appear until after your service. This is called a postservice disability claim.

 

You may not be eligible for disability compensation if you got a(n):

  • Other than honorable discharge, 

  • Bad conduct discharge, or

  • Dishonorable discharge.

 

However, you may still be able to apply for benefits if: you have your reason for discharge changed. You can:

  • apply through the VA to have your discharge upgraded or corrected, or 

  • ask for a Character of Discharge review through the VA. 

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What are my rights and responsibilities to disability benefits?

If you are eligible, you have a right to disability compensation. You are responsible for applying for this benefit and providing evidence of your disability.

 

If you disagree with the VA’s disability rating or any other decision, you have a right to appeal that decision. It is your responsibility to start and follow the appeals process.

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What can I do? +

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How do I apply for disability benefits for Veterans?

Intent to File

Before you file, you should submit an Intent to File. If you are approved for benefits, you may be able to get back payments from the date you file your intent. Then you can take your time getting your documents together to file your claim. You can submit your intent to file:

  • By phone. Call 800-827-1000.

  • In person at your local VA office.

  • By Mail. Fill out Intent to File a Claim for Compensation (VA Form 21-0966) and mail to:

    • Department of Veterans 

Claims Intake Center

PO Box 4444

Janesville, WI 53547-4444

 

Filing a Claim

If you believe you are eligible for benefits, you can file your claim:

  • Online,

  • In person at your local VA office.

  • By mail. File an Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits (VA Form 21-526EZ) and send it to:

    • Department of Veterans 

Claims Intake Center

PO Box 4444

Janesville, WI 53547-4444

 

If your disability gets worse, you can ask for more money. To do that, you’ll need to file an additional claim for disability. Follow the same steps as you did to file the original claim. 

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What information should I include with my claim?

In addition to your application, you will need to include evidence that shows you have a disability. Include documents like:

  • Any VA or private medical records related to your illnesses or injuries, and

  • Supporting statements from anyone who can talk about: 

    • Your condition,

    • How and when it happened,

    • How it got worse. 

 

In some cases, you may need to turn in additional forms.

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How can I appeal a disability decision from the VA?

You can file an appeal if you disagree with any decision from the VA, including:

  • Your disability rating,

  • A denial of compensation, or

  • The amount of compensation.

 

You can have a representative to help with your appeal. This process can take years to complete. To appeal a decision:

  • File a Notice of Disagreement. You must file your notice within one year of the date on the letter notifying you of the decision. Mail the notice to the address on the decision letter.

  • Statement of the Case. After you file the Notice of Disagreement, your file will be reviewed by a Decision Review Officer. The officer will decide whether you have enough evidence to grant your appeal. They will send this decision in a Statement of the Case.

  • VA Form 9. If you disagree with the Statement of the Case, you need to return the VA Form 9 within 60 days. 

    • This is your last chance to send any additional evidence for the VA to review.

  • Appeal to the Board. Your case will be sent to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. A judge will review your case. 

  • Hearing. If you wish, you can request a hearing with a Veterans Law Judge.

  • Decision. The Board will decide to:

    • Allow benefits,

    • Ask for more evidence, or

    • Deny benefits.

  • Court of Appeals. If you disagree with the Board’s decision, you can appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. You must appeal within 120 days.

 

What if I can’t wait years for an appeal of a VA decision?

You can ask for your appeal to be moved to the front of the line if you:

  • Are 75 years old or older, 

  • You have a serious illness,

  • Are having major financial problems, or

  • You have some other good reason.

 

This is called having your appeal Advanced on Docket. You make this request by writing to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

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Can I reopen my case if I have new evidence of my disability?

You may ask the agency to reopen your case after a final decision by filing a Supplemental Claim and submitting new and relevant evidence. A Supplemental Claim may be filed:

  • within one year of the disability rating decision, or 

  • any time after the one year time period of the disability rating decision. 

 

The only difference between the two opportunities is the date your benefits will start, if you are granted benefits. 

  • If you file within one year, the effective date will be the date of the initial claim. 

  • If the Supplemental Claim is filed beyond one year after the date of the Rating Decision, the effective date will be the date the Supplemental Claim was received by VA.

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Terms

To get a faster decision on your disability benefits claim, you should submit a fully developed disability claim. A claim is considered fully developed if you submit:

  • An application, and
  • All the evidence. Submit your evidence at the same time you submit your claim, and
  • Certify that there is no more evidence for the VA to consider, and 
  • Go to any VA medical exams. 

 

There are some conditions that will automatically be considered a disability by the VA. These presumed disabilities include:

  • A chronic illness that appears within one year after you are discharged, or
  • An illness caused by contact with toxic chemicals or other hazardous materials, or
  • An illness caused by your time as a prisoner of war.

Resources

 

For help with benefits:

  • Stateside Legal is a website is for members of the military, veterans, their families and advocates.
  • Learn more about all the services offered by the Georgia Department of Veterans Services on their website.
  • For help with benefits appeals, contact the Georgia Department of Veterans Services Appeals Division.
  • If you have questions for the VA, you can:
    • Message the VA online,
    • Call the VA at:
      • VA benefits hotline: 800-827-1000
      • eBenefits technical support: 800-983-0937
      • Call MyVA311 for help: 844-698-2311
      • If you have hearing loss, call TTY: 711.
Last Review and Update: Jan 30, 2020