Apply for Benefits

Who should read this?

  • Veterans who are filing claims for benefits.
  • Servicemembers who are getting ready to separate from the military.
  • Survivors of Veterans and Servicemembers who may be eligible for benefits.

How long does a decision take?

115.7 Days (Average time)

Average number of days to process disability-related claims during November 2016.

If you’ve already filed a claim, you can check your disability compensation claim status. Check your status.

(The time frame you see there may vary based on the complexity of your claim.)

What are the steps?

  1. Prepare
    Documents you’ll need

    For the first compensation claim you send VA, please provide:

    • Discharge papers (DD214 or equivalent)
    • Service treatment records

    Both of these documents can be ordered through the National Archives.

    For all compensation claims, please provide:

    • VA medical records and hospital reports that relate to your claimed conditions
    • Private medical records and hospital reports that relate to your claimed conditions
  2. Apply

    Choose one of three ways:

    Note: Servicemembers should learn about predischarge claims.

  3. VA Review
    The amount of time it takes to process your claim depends on several factors:
    • The type of claim you filed, such as compensation, claim for increased evaluation, etc.
    • How many injuries or disabilities you claimed and how complicated they are.
    • How long it takes for VA to gather the evidence needed to decide your claim.
    Here’s what happens once you’ve filed your claim:
    1. VA receives your claim. (Claim Received)
    2. A Veterans Service Representative (VSR) examines your claim to determine if VA needs any additional information to make a decision. (Under Review)
    3. If VA needs additional information, the VSR requests it from you or asks for it on your behalf. (Gathering of Evidence)
    4. Once VA obtains, or has completed its efforts to obtain, all the information it needs, the VSR ensures each issue claimed is ready for a decision. (Review of Evidence)
    5. The VSR electronically routes the claim and supporting information to a Rating Veterans Service Representative (RVSR) for a final decision. (Preparation for a Decision)
    What if VA needs more information?
    • VA may reach out on your behalf to other governmental agencies, such as the Department of Defense, for records.
    • If VA needs more medical information, it may ask you to provide it. VA may also schedule an examination for you to assess the disabilities you claimed.

    Note: VA may schedule you for one or more examinations based on the number and type of disabilities claimed, such as joint, lung, or mental conditions.

    Do I need to do anything while I’m waiting?

    Other than attend scheduled examinations, you don’t need to do anything else unless VA sends you a letter saying it needs more information.

  4. Decision
    • The RVSR decides your claim after reviewing all evidence in your record, including the initial application, examination reports, and service treatment records.
    • After deciding the claim, the RVSR routes it to a VSR to input the decision and draft the decision letter. A Senior Veterans Service Representative (SVSR) reviews the completed documents, then authorizes release of the letter and any payment.

    If you disagree with the decision, you may appeal it. The decision letter contains appeal information. File an appeal.

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Please note: Content on this Web page is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal advice or to be a comprehensive statement or analysis of applicable statutes, regulations, and case law governing this topic. Rather, it’s a plain-language summary. If you are seeking claims assistance, your local VA regional office, a VA-recognized Veterans Service Organization, or a VA-accredited attorney or agent can help. Search Accredited Attorneys, Claims Agents, or Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) Representatives.