Hi, this is Ginny Lee and I promised to provide you with information about the Veterans Benefits Administration, the section responsible for logging, evaluating your military medical records, civilian medical records, your VA medical records and your military personnel file. The pictures above represent the frustration amount of forms you may be required. The most important, and first format to complete is VA Forms 21-526EZ, Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits (medical, burial, pension, etc.)
A little history to know… until March of 2015, any veteran could write a letter, even a post-it note stating they wish to file a claim and then can start that claim with the beginning date as to when the VA received that request from the veteran and it was logged into the veterans benefits administration, meaning that that same day was the beginning of your claim of date and it also meant the day that you would be rewarded back any pay you may have won in the final decision of your claim..
In March 2015, the rules for filing a claim changed dramatically. The first way is to file a claim via computer to the system established known as ebenefits. All of the information to start the claim is available on the ebenefits website. All supporting documents can be uploaded right to the site. The VA is claiming improved efficiency, less errors and faster claims processing and decision making. The one part about beginning your claim through ebenefits is that your day of claim begins with the very first day that you complete the first form online and it is automatically uploaded into the system. Being advantageous to file through ebenefits, a sooner claim start date, and increasing the amount of back pay when you are awarded your claim.
A huge downfall to the system is that there are large populations of veterans who do not have compute, do not know how to work computer, and even if they had access to a computer, still may not understand how to work the system. This leads veteran to file a claim, first by filing VA form 21-0 966. The veteran will not have a start date for the claim until the veteran has submitted all required documents within one year, which is the date they use as the start date for the claim.
*****Make sure you pay attention to your dates because both alternatives for filing a claim requires the claim (paperwork) to be submitted within one year.*****
However there are alternatives for these veterans. They can go through a Veterans Service Officer, a veteran county or state officer, or individuals who can help the veteran with starting and uploading documents. The last alternative is to go through an attorney specializing in Veterans claims. Please take note, an Attorney will have the Veterans sign a document that a certain percent percentage of the award will be paid to the attorney.
One thing that all veterans need to understand about filing disability claims in this day in age is that a claim will not be decided until the VA considers it complete. Here few tips to help you to begin your disability claim process these are very important to understand and to keep in mind.
- Keep a symptom diary. For instance, for a veteran with PTSD, a diary entry should look like this: “On July 4th, my neighbors were shooting off fireworks. I once enjoyed them, but after coming home from deployment, the sound of guunfire, a car backfiring, even fireworks changes me. I will duck for cover and the only thing I can see are my fellow soldiers getting shot, and IED going off. I try to crawl to safety, my heart is raising and I am in a cold sweat. This is the same feelings I have with my nightmares, often waking up yelling, screaming, even sometimes, I crying. I’m afraid to leave my home not knowing what could set me off. And I am afraid to sleep because I don’t want to relive the past. My daughter tried to wake me up from a nightmare, and if she was a little closer, I could have hit her. Nightmares are a regular part of my life occurring 6 times a week, and sometimes twice a night, if and when I can fall asleep.”
- Order your military records and your military personnel file, sometimes known as a 201 file.
- Your can order your records through the NPCR, National Personnel Records Center. (Military) 9700 Page Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63132. 314-532-4122.
- KEEP THEM TO YOURSELF AND IN A SAFE PLACE! If the VA OR VBA needs copies, fax them. You can go through any UPS Store, office supply store, but this way, you know they are not getting lost, and you have proof of the fax.
- Get any civilian medical records. Do the same thing as above.
- Get to know all of your records. Put tabs on important documentation. Keep in files, in a safe, dry place.
- Get letters from friends, family, soldiers you served with, even someone in your Chain of Command…..they can write about behavioral changes, forgetfulness, depression, even a specific you suffered during a gun fight.
- KEEP ALL YOUR APPOINTMENTS AT THE VA.
- DO NOT MISS OR BE LATE FOR YOUR COMPENSATION AND PENSION (C&P). Be early. Be your everyday self, your “post deployment” self. Answer questions honestly. If you stay bed for days without taking a shower, tell them.
- If you are not comfortable with talking to the examiner alone, bring someone with you. Make sure this person knows your symptoms, like loss of memory, increased alcohol use, increased anger, the examiner should want to interview them, especially if there are memory issues, common to both Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.