The Claim Filing Process

  1. Getting Started
  2. Reviewing Your Medical Records
  3. Preparing Your Claim
    • Proving Your Claim
  4. Filing Your Claim
    • Veterans Organizatinos
    • Informal Claims
    • Formal Claims
    • Online Form
  5. Claim Arrival at Regional Office
    • Compensation & Pension Exam
    • Disability Exam Worksheet
    • Rating Team Decision

Filing Your Claim

We encourage claims be submitted through one of several available State and Local Organizations as these will assist you to follow up on your claim only if you utilized their services for filing the claim. Additionally you may request your local congressional office to submit the claim on your behalf.

§ 3.155 Informal Claims

  1. Any communication or action, indicating an intent to apply for one or more benefits under the laws administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, from a claimant, his or her duly authorized representative, a Member of Congress, or some person acting as next friend of a claimant who is not sui juris may be considered an informal claim. Such informal claim must identify the benefit sought. Upon receipt of an informal claim, if a formal claim has not been filed, an application form will be forwarded to the claimant for execution. If received within 1 year from the date it was sent to the claimant, it will be considered filed as of the date of receipt of the informal claim
  2. A communication received from a service organization, an attorney, or agent may not be accepted as an informal claim if a power of attorney was not executed at the time the communication was written
  3. When a claim has been filed which meets the requirements of §3.151 or §3.152, an informal request for increase or reopening will be accepted as a claim.

To file an Informal Claim use VA Form 4138.

§ 3.151 Formal Claims for Disability Benefits

  1. General. A specific claim in the form prescribed by the Secretary must be filed in order for benefits to be paid to any individual under the laws administered by VA. (38 U.S.C. 5101(a)). A claim by a veteran for compensation may be considered to be a claim for pension; and a claim by a veteran for pension may be considered to be a claim for compensation. The greater benefit will be awarded, unless the claimant specifically elects the lesser benefit
  2. Retroactive disability pension claims. Where disability pension entitlement is established based on a claim received by VA on or after October 1, 1984, the pension award may not be effective prior to the date of receipt of the pension claim unless the veteran specifically claims entitlement to retroactive benefits. The claim for retroactivity may be filed separately or included in the claim for disability pension, but it must be received by VA within one year from the date on which the veteran became permanently and totally disabled. Additional requirements for entitlement to a retroactive pension award are contained in §3.400(b) of this part

To file a Formal Claim use VA Form 21-526

Filing On-Line using VONAPP

Do not use VONAPP if you:

  • Are receiving compensation, pension, or vocational rehabilitation benefits, or
  • Are applying for an increase in benefits, or
  • Already have a pending application for benefits, or
  • Are notifying the VA about dependency or income changes

The VONAPP (Veterans On Line Applications) website is an official U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) website, that enables veterans to apply for benefits using the Internet. U.S. military veterans and some service members within six months of separation or retirement can apply for compensation, pension, and vocational rehabilitation benefits.

U.S. military veterans, service members with two years of service, and members of the Selected Reserve can apply for education benefits.

VONAPP also has a link to VA Form 10-10EZ, Application for Health Benefits.

How is using this site different from visiting a VA office?

When you use this site to complete and send an application to the VA, your application will be sent directly to the VA office with jurisdiction over your application. Processing will begin and you will receive an automated e-mail response from the VA office letting you know that your application has been received.

It can be important for you to submit your claim as soon as you can if it is near the end of a month, whether by regular mail or using VONAPP, to ensure they receive before the first of the next month. In some cases, your entitlement is based on the date they receive your claim in the VA. You might lose a month of benefits if you are found ineligible, but you wait until the following month to submit your claim.

When you successfully submit your electronic application using VONAPP, the time and date is stamped on your application. The time and date is the Eastern Standard Time (EST) at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where it is electronically received by the VA regardless of your geographic location around the world.

To file a Veteran On-Line Application go to VONAPP only for first time claims.