How Do I File a Claim for Veterans’ Benefits?

There are many different types of veterans benefits including benefits for education and training, home loans, vocational rehabilitation and pension.  This article only focuses on applications for veterans’ disability compensation benefits which can be awarded when a veteran has a disease or injury that is caused by, related to or aggravated by military service.

How To File For Veterans Disability Compensation Benefits

Veterans can apply for disability compensation benefits without hiring an attorney.  One way to do so is to apply online through your eBenefits account.  You can also go to the nearest VA Regional Office and complete an application or submit your claim to a Regional Office by mail after you complete the particular form for the type of benefit for which you are applying.  For disability compensation, that would be either VA Form 21-526 Application for Compensation and/or Pension or VA Form 21-526EZ Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation.

The “EZ” version is a simplified version that will get the process started and establish an “effective date,” although there may be additional information sought later by VA that would have been addressed on the longer version.  So, the more complicated form could potentially result in a faster claims decision, although that is never certain when dealing with VA.  Some time after your claim has been filed, you will receive a Rating Decision from a VA Regional Office indicating what, if any, disability the VA has determined is related to your military service.  If you disagree with that rating decision, you can appeal it by filing a notice of disagreement.

How Much Would Hiring an Attorney Cost?

While you do not have to have an attorney to file an application for disability compensation, our law firm will often offer to handle initial applications for veterans disability compensation benefits on a pro bono basis.    This is different than just providing a free consultation.  If our attorneys agree to represent you pro bono, we handle the whole initial application for disability compensation for free. So, if you want, you can contact us to see if we would be able to help you file an initial claim for veterans disability compensation benefits at no cost to you.

We believe it is important to understand that our pro bono representation generally only covers the initial application for disability compensation benefits.  If the Department of Veterans Affairs denies your application, you can choose to hire us to file an appeal of that decision.  This appeal is called a notice of disagreement.  For representing you on the appeal, there would generally be a contingency fee contract with a potential attorney’s fee of twenty percent of any back due benefits if we agreed to represent you on the appeal.  Still, you would only pay us if we were successful in recovering benefits for you.

Other Questions About Veterans Benefits

For answers to additional questions about veterans’ benefits claims, please feel free to visit the Veterans’ Benefits section of our Questions and Answers page or simply complete the “Need Help” form at the right to get a consultation about your veterans’ benefits claims.