VA recently made major changes in its rules about VA form filing in veterans benefits claims. VA is moving toward requiring official forms to be filed in order to file a claim or to pursue an appeal. You need to be aware of the changes in the rules because they could create problems for many veterans.
What are the most significant changes with the new rules?
One of the most significant changes is the abolishment of option of filing an informal claim. Informal claims allowed veterans to make a request for benefits for a condition without using VA’s official form. Since a veteran can only receive benefits from the time a claims is filed, informal claims often provided veterans with many additional months or years of benefits as a result of an earlier effective date when the claim for benefits was granted.
After March 24, 2015, the ability to file an informal claim no longer exists. To file a claim for disability compensation benefits, a veteran must file Form 21-526EZ. A wartime veteran filing for pension must use Form 21-527EZ. The survivor of a veteran filing for dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) should file Form 21-534EZ. Because there is no ability to file a claim informally, many veterans and survivors who would have met the requirements for filing an informal claim under the previous rules will no longer have claims filed until they actually file the required VA form.
What if I don’t yet have all the information I need to file a claim?
A veteran can now notify VA of an intent to file a claim. According to VA’s website, there are several ways to do this. The most straightforward way is to complete a Form 21-0966 Intent to File a Claim for Compensation and/or Pension, or Survivors Pension and/or DIC. VA also indicates that you can complete an Intent to File application through eBenefits. The proper filing of an intent to file a claim will preserve the effective date of the claim while giving the veteran or survivor one year to gather the necessary information to support the claim. Preserving the earliest possible effective date is very important.
VA has indicated that it hopes these changes will help it process claim and pay benefits in a more timely manner. We certainly hope that it does that so that veterans will not continue to experience long delays waiting for their claims to be processed. If you have any questions about filing a claim or any other questions about veterans benefits, our attorneys will be happy to provide you with a free consultation to answer your questions. Also, if you are filing an initial claim for compensation, our attorneys will usually represent you in that initial application for free. To find out more, simply call the phone number or complete the “Need Help” form on the right side of this page.