Which veteran benefits should I apply for?
There are many different types of benefits available to veterans. Are you unsure of which benefits you may be able to apply for? The links below will help you figure it out:
- If your discharge was less than fully Honorable please click here.
- For an explanation of the difference between Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Social Security Benefits click here.
- For a guide to help you find out which benefits you may be able to apply for click here.
- A screening guide that helps veterans find out which benefits they may be able to apply for is available here. http://statesidelegal.org/va-benefits-quick-screening-guide. This guide is not meant to give legal advice and is only a tool to help you determine which benefits you may qualify for. Since the information that you will receive is based on your answers, make sure to read the questions carefully and to answer accurately.
- VA benefits…compensation or pension? click here.
- Once you figure out that you may apply for VA benefits, you have to determine which VA benefits you qualify for: service-connected disability compensation (compensation) or non-service-connected disability pension (pension). Both types of benefits are based on disability, but there are several differences between compensation and pension.PensionCompensation
Need-based program Not based on need or income To be eligible must have wartime service, low income, and total and permanent disability Do not need to have total disability, low income, or wartime service Do not need to connect disabilities to the time of military service Need to connect disability to the time of military service Veterans aged 65 years and older are presumed to be permanently and totally disabled No presumption of disability for veterans aged 65 years and older
A more detailed explanation of the differences between VA compensation and VA pension, including the requirements for each is available here.
- If you meet the requirements for VA pension benefits click here.
- Click here for more information on VA pension and to download the form you need to fill out to apply
- If you meet the requirements for VA compensation benefits click here.
There are several compensation benefits that a veteran can apply for:
- Disability compensation
click here for information on the different types of VA disability compensation.
- Dependency and indemnity compensation;
- Special monthly compensation;
- Claims based on special circumstances.
Filing your VA Disability Compensation Benefits Claim
This page provides information for veterans with service-connected disabilities who want to file a VA compensation claim. Service-connection does not mean that something had to have happened to you during a time of combat. Service-connection means that something happened to you in the service that caused or aggravated the disability that is currently bothering you. Filing a claim can be confusing and the following information and resources should help you through the claims process.
When you apply for service-connected disability benefits, you may either file a Fully Developed Claim (FDC) or a Standard Claim. You use a different form depending on which type of claim you decide to file.
For more information on Fully Developed Claims click here.
- Getting to know the claims process...click here.
- Reports and evidence click here.
- For VA compensation eligibility information with references to other helpful documents that contain specific examples for reports and evidence here.
- How long is the claims process? click here.
- An outline of the claims process with regard to what happens after a claim is filed and with how long things generally take is available here.
After you decide whether you want to file a Fully Developed Claim or a Standard Claim, you’ll have to decide whether you want to file electronically or whether you want to file a paper form that you will mail to your local regional office.
- If you want to file your claim electronically click here.
- The eBenefits portal is a great resource if you are comfortable with using a computer. The website provides helpful resources for filing your claim and you can also file your claim electronically through the eBenefits portal. click here to begin your application.
- If you want to file a paper application click here.
You can fill out a hard copy of the applicable forms and mail them to the regional benefits office for the entire state of Ohio (Cleveland Regional Benefit Office; Address: A.J. Celebrezze Federal Building, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 1240 East Ninth Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44199; Phone: (800) 827-1000/(216) 522-3507). There are different forms for a Standard Claim and an FDC, so please pay special attention to make sure that you are using the correct form for the type of claim that you would like to file.Please make sure to always read all of the instructions before beginning to fill out any form. The instructions will make the process of filling the form out less confusing and will direct you to resources that you can use if you have questions.
Forms you need to file a disability claim
|Description||Form Name||PDF of Form||Additional Information|
|Use if you want to file a Standard Claim||VA form 21-526 Veterans application for compensation and/or pension||Click for PDF||Instructional video on how to fill out the: View Video
Detailed instructions on what sections of the form you need to fill out and how to fill them out: View Instructions
|Use to request your DD 214, medical records, and other military records that support your compensation claim||SF 180-Request pertaining to military records||Click for PDF|
|If you need to add anything to your existing claim||VA form 21-526b Veteran’s supplemental claim for compensation||Click for PDF|
|Form for Fully Developed Claim (FDC)||VA form 21-526 EZ Notice of Veteran/Service Member of evidence necessary to substantiate a claim for Veterans Disability Compensation Benefits (Fully Developed Claim)||Click for PDF|
|Quick Start allows a service member to submit a claim for disability compensation 1 to 59 days prior to separation, retirement, or release from active duty or demobilization. Submitting your disability compensation claim before discharge makes it possible to receive VA disability benefits as soon as possible after separation, retirement, or demobilization.||VA form 21-526c Pre-discharge Compensation Claim||Click for PDF|
|If you received treatment from a non-VA healthcare provider, you must complete this form in order for the VA to be able to request your non-VA health records.||VA form 21-4142 Authorization and Consent to release information to the Department of Veterans Affairs||Click for PDF|
|Use this form when you gather “lay” and medical evidence||VA form 21-4138 Statement in Support of Claim||Click for PDF|
Physician Reports and Evidence to Support Your Claim
As part of the claims process, you must provide physician reports and evidence. The following information will guide you in collecting the reports and evidence you will need to complete your claim. Please pay special attention to the instructions for medial professionals because some of the forms will need to be filled out by your doctor and you cannot fill them out yourself.
- Physician Reports click here.
- Click here for information about the medical examination you will need to complete to accompany your claim.
- Click here for a document outlines the information that your doctor should include in his/her physician report. It may be helpful to give a copy of this document to your doctor, so that your doctor can make sure that he/she includes all of the important information needed to help you win your claim.
- Evidence to support your claim click here.
As part of your VA Disability benefits claim, you have to provide evidence to show that something happened to you in the service that caused or aggravated the disability that is currently bothering you. You have to include both evidence that the disease or injury was caused or aggravated in the line of duty AND that the disease or injury has been persistent or recurrent.
Evidence of the cause of the disease or injury should include both medical and “lay” evidence (Lay evidence means the reports, opinions, memories, or other documentation from non-medical people, including the veteran). Look at the following documents to make sure that the letters you include in your claim have all of the important information that you need for a successful claim:
- For "lay evidence"click here.
- For medical evidence click here.
- Click here for more information on evidence requirements.
In addition to a medical professional’s letter as evidence to support your claim, you can also have a medical professional fill out a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ). DBQs are not required for a Standard Claim, but they are required for Fully Developed Claims. Even though DBQs are not required for Standard Claims, we recommend that your health care provider fill one out in addition to the health care provider’s letter. The DBQ does not replace the letter, but it may strengthen your claim. DBQs are downloadable forms that are used in the evaluation process for disability benefits. The forms are designed to give veterans more control over the claims process. DBQs give veterans the option of visiting a primary care provider in their community, instead of completing an evaluation at a VA facility. The veteran will have to pay to see the primary care provider. The forms use check boxes and standardized language, so that the disability rating can be made more quickly and accurately.
If you want help with the application process
Veterans can begin an application at their Regional Office or their County Veteran Service Commission. Below is the contact information for the Cleveland Regional Office and for the Veterans Service Commissions for Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Lorain counties. We have also provided the links for the Disabled American Veterans website, the Veterans of Foreign Wars website, and the VA’s Inquiry Routing and Information System (IRIS).
- Cleveland Regional Benefit Office
- If you fill out a hard copy claim form, you can mail that form to the regional office. You can also visit your local regional office and turn in your application for processing. While there, you can appoint an accredited Veterans Service Officer to help you prepare and submit your claim. You can find an accredited Veteran Service Officer using eBenefits.Address: A.J. Celebrezze Federal Building, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 1240 East Ninth Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44199Phone: (800) 827-1000/(216) 522-3507
- Disabled American Veteran click here.
- Veterans of Foreign Wars click here.
- Veterans service Commissions Chart (by county) click here.
County Address Phone # Fax # Website Ashtabula 1212 Lake Ave. Ashtabula, Oh 44004 (440) 964-8324 (440) 964-3582 firstname.lastname@example.org Visit Site Cuyahoga 1849 Prospect Ave., Ground Floor Cleveland, Oh 44115 (216) 698-2600 / 1-866-915-8387 (216) 698-2650 email@example.com Visit Site Geauga 470 Center St., Building #8-A Chardon, Oh 44024 (440) 279-1860 (440) 285-4489 firstname.lastname@example.org Visit Site Lake 105 Main Street Painesville, Oh 44077 440) 350-2567 / 2904 OR (800) 899-5253, Ext. 2904 (440) 350-5980 email@example.com Visit Site Lorain 42495 N. Ridge Rd. Elyria, Oh 44035 (440) 284-4625 (440) 284-4696 firstname.lastname@example.org Visit Site
- The inquiry Routing and Information System click here.
- If you have any questions about the claims process, use the VA’s Inquiry Routing and Information System (IRIS). On the site, you can enter your question and your contact information and you should get a response within 5 business days: https://iris.custhelp.com/app/ask
What do I do if my claim is denied?
When you are not satisfied with the decision that the local VA office made on your claim, you may request an appeal. When you request an appeal, you are asking the Board of Veterans’ Appeals to review the decision because you do not agree with it. You can appeal for any reason.
- The appeals process click here.
- Forms for appealing a claim click here.