Retirement or separation from the military means you may be entitled to Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation. This pay offers a monthly tax free payment to veterans who were sick, injured or had an existing condition that was made worse by military service. Veterans may qualify for disability benefits for physical and mental health conditions.

The VA claims process can be lengthy and should be started early enough to prevent delays in receiving benefits. There are several steps that need to be taken to initiate and complete the process so it is IMPORTANT to stay on top of everything!

Here are the steps:

  • Find a VA Representative: Your installation will have contact information for VA representatives that service your area, however veterans and service members can find a representative on their own. Some representatives require payment for their services. Your installations assigned representatives will provide their services free of charge.
  • Request Your Medical Records: This step is crucial and should be done very early. Some medical facilities will not be able to process your request and return your records for a month or two after you request them. Your records will include all your information from the time you entered service up until the time you leave. Your file will include X-rays, dental records, etc.
  • Review Your Records: When you receive your records you need to review them thoroughly. Your VA rep will review your records as well however it is important to ensure that no information is missing and dates are accurate.
  • Schedule an Appointment with the VA Rep: Keep in mind your installation may have one or two representatives and they are very busy. It may take a week or two for your rep to reply to you to schedule an appointment so meeting your deadlines will be important. When you meet your rep, whether in person or virtually, they will ask you what conditions you want to claim and help you complete the paperwork. If you have reviewed your medical records thoroughly prior to the meeting this should go smoothly. Be sure to have additional information such as (dependent social security numbers & bank account and routing numbers) readily available.
  • Prepare for Your Exams: Your VA rep will schedule your exams based on the conditions you are claiming. Typical exams to expect are hearing tests, mental health evaluations, labs and the compensation and pension exam, known as the C&P exam. The VA will use contracted medical professionals to complete your exams so it will be important to ensure you have availability to meet all your appointments and cancel in a timely manner if needed so you can be rescheduled quickly. Some of the exams may require you to travel to your medical provider but don’t worry the VA will reimburse you for mileage.

The VA claims will be one of the most important parts of your out-processing. Plan ahead when starting your VA claim as this is a crucial step in mastering your military transition. Patience is key as you won’t receive your combined VA rating right away; however, you can track your claim process with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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