Apply for Disability 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?

129.5 Days (Average time)

Average number of days to process disability-related claims during January 2017.

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
    How long will it take for VA to review my claim?

    The amount of time it takes to review your claim depends on:

    • The type of claim you filed
    • How many injuries or disabilities you claimed and how complex they are
    • How long it takes us to collect the evidence needed to decide your claim
    What happens after I file my claim?
    1. Claim Received

      You’ll see a notice from us in your claims list within about 1 hour if you applied online with VONAPP Direct Connect. If you applied through the U.S. mail, you’ll need to allow for mailing time plus 1 week before you get a note telling you we have your claim.

    2. Initial Review

      A Veterans Service Representative (VSR) will review your claim. It will move to step 3 if we don’t need any more evidence to support it.

    3. Evidence Gathering, Review, and Decision

      During this step, the VSR will do 3 things:

      • Ask for evidence from you, health care providers, governmental agencies, or others
      • Review the evidence
      • Make a decision

      If we need more evidence during the review, your claim may return to this step more than once.

    4. Preparation for Notification

      We’ll get your entire claim decision packet ready to be mailed.

    5. Claim Complete

      We’ll send you a packet by U.S. mail that includes details of the decision on your claim. Please allow 7 to 10 business days for your packet to arrive before contacting a VA call center.

    What if VA needs more information?
    • We may reach out on your behalf to other governmental agencies (like the Department of Defense) for records.
    • If we need more medical information, we may ask you for it. We may also schedule a VA claim exam (also known as a C&P exam) to get more information about the disabilities you claimed.

    Note: We may schedule you for 1 or more exams based on the number and type of disabilities claimed.

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

    Not unless you hear from us. You don’t need to do anything else unless we send you a letter asking for more information. If we schedule any exams for you, be sure not to miss them.

  4. What should I do if I disagree with your decision?

    If you disagree with our decision, you can appeal it. The decision notice will have instructions on how to file an appeal. File an appeal now.