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Navigating the Veterans Disability Claims Process

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Navigating the Veterans Disability Claims Process: A Concise Guide


The VA disability claims process can be complex, but understanding some key steps can significantly improve your chances of success. Here's a guide to help you navigate the process effectively:


VA disability claims process begins with understanding the eligibility requirements. 

A combination of primary and specific factors determines eligibility. (See Caluza Triangle)Caluza-triangle.png

Basic eligibility often relates to the type of discharge received and the amount of time served. Veterans who do not meet these basic requirements cannot receive the benefit. However, meeting the basic requirements means specific eligibility factors will determine the benefit.

After VA confirms your eligibility, you’ll need to gather evidence to support your claim. This includes your medical records and any other documentation that can help to substantiate your claim. You do need solid evidence to be able to connect your disability to your military service.

Your Eligibility Depends on:

  • Type of discharge
  • Length of service
  • Service-connected disability

Gather evidence linking your disability to your military service, including medical records and other supporting documentation.

Read Documenting Your VA Claim – Examining your service medical records

File Your Claim

  1. Choose the correct forms:
  2. Submit your claim online, by mail, or in person at a VA office.
  3. Track your claim status through your VA.gov account. The claim will go through the following stages. Keep in mind that it’s not necessarily a linear process. Your claim may go back and forth from evidence gathering to review and back again. That can be frustrating, but it is normal.

Claim received

    • VA will let you know when they receive your VA disability claim.
    • If you file your claim online, you'll get an on-screen message after you submit the form.
    • If you mail your application, VA will send you a letter informing you they have your claim. You should get this letter in about 1 week, plus mailing time, after VA receives your claim.

Initial review

  • VA reviews your claim.

Evidence gathering, review, and decision

  1. During this step, VA does 3 things:
    • Ask for evidence from you, health care providers, government agencies, etc.
    • Review the evidence
    • Make a decision
  2. If VA needs more evidence during the review, your claim may return to this step more than once.

Preparation for notification

  • VA gets your claim decision packet ready to mail.

Claim complete

  • The VA will send you a packet by U.S. mail with 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.

Your claim may return to the gathering evidence phase at any point if the VA discovers that more information is needed.

Always ask for a copy of anything submitted to the VA on your behalf. This ensures you have a record of all communications and submissions.


C&P Exam Preparations

The Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam is crucial for determining your disability severity and its connection to your service.


What to Expect During the Exam

The C&P exam evaluates the severity of your disability and its connection to your military service. It is not intended for treatment purposes. The VA physician will review your medical history and ask questions about your condition. Make sure to attend all scheduled exams, even if you believe some are unnecessary.


Read Compensation and Pension (C&P) Exams Do’s and Don’ts


Tips for a successful exam:


  • Be honest and thorough about your symptoms and triggers if applicable
  • Bring relevant medical records
  • Consider keeping a symptom journal
  • Attend all C&P exams


Maximize Your Benefits

  1. Understand secondary conditions: These are ailments caused or aggravated by a service-connected disability.

Read 38 CFR 3.310 Disabilities that are proximately due to, or aggravated by, service-connected disease or injury

5 Ways to establish service connection in VA disability compensation claims

  1. 2 Request reevaluation if your condition worsens. Submit new medical evidence to support your claim.


Seek Professional Help

Consider getting help from:


  • VA-accredited representatives
  • Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs)
  • Experienced VA disability attorneys (especially for appeals)



  1. Understand eligibility requirements
  2. Gather comprehensive documentation medical records, in service and out, buddy letters, letters from family, medical research.
  3. File your initial claim as early as possible to preserve the earliest effective date.
  4. Prepare for the C&P exam
  5. Seek professional help when needed


Remember, the process can be challenging, but with proper preparation and guidance, you can secure the benefits you deserve. Don't hesitate to use available resources and seek professional help to navigate the complexities of the VA disability claims process.


Knowledge Is Power!



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Founder HadIt.com Veteran To Veteran LLC - Founded Jan 20, 1997


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