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Veterans Benefits: Common Scenarios and Help Gathering Records

The sections below cover common scenarios people face when dealing with veterans' benefits issues. There is also a section on gathering records useful to your case.


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Common Scenario #1: New Service-Connected Disability Application:
  • Steps to Follow
    • If you are unable to work due to your disability, or need extra assistance with housework or caring for yourself, put this information in your application.
      • Up-to-date contact information for all medical providers that treated your disability
Common Scenario #2: New Pension Claim
  • Steps to Follow
    • Gather proof of unreimbursed medical expenses. These expenses are deducted from your income and can make the difference between a VA Pension application being accepted or denied.
    • If you have a disability, gather up-to-date contact information for all medical providers that treated your disability.
Common Scenario #3: Service-Connected Disability or Pension Claim after rejection
  • Steps to Follow
    • If it has been less than a year since your last claim was denied, file a Notice of Disagreement form (VA 21-0958) to start the appeal process. If your appeal is successful, you will get benefits back to the date of your initial application.
    • If it has been more than a year since your last claim was denied, submit new evidence with a Veteran’s Supplemental Claim for Compensation form to reopen the claim. Unfortunately, benefits will not be paid dating back to the original application.
Gathering Records: How-To
  • If your claim was previously denied, carefully review the VA denial letter. This letter may contain information on why your claim was denied.
  • Request your personnel file using a SF180 if you believe the following exist (these would all be in your personnel file):
    • In-service treatment of your disability (except in-patient records, which should be requested from the medical facility where you were treated)
    • Special orders that accommodate your disability
    • Entry or exit medical exams that reflect your disability
    • Records of service that is presumed connected to a disability, such as service in an Agent Orange area
    • Records of exposure to environmental hazards such as asbestos or loud noises.