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How to Apply

Disability Compensation

Veterans who have disabilities, medical conditions or injuries incurred or aggravated during active military service—no matter when or where they served—may be eligible to receive tax-free monthly benefits.

VA Requirements

To support a claim for service connection, the evidence must show the following:

  • You have a current physical or mental disability.
  • You had an injury or disease in service or experienced an event in service that caused or aggravated an injury or disease.
  • There is a link between your current disability and the event, injury or disease in military service.

If you have any of the following relevant items, you should submit them with your claim:

  • Discharge or separation papers (the DD-214 or equivalent).
  • Service treatment records and supporting statements.
  • Private medical provider records and hospital reports.

VA Application Process

The simplest way to obtain a VA decision on a compensation claim is to submit all supporting documents and evidence together in a Fully Developed Claim (FDC) online at or by mail. Typical steps to apply online include:

If you want to file an FDC but aren’t quite ready, you can start an FDC at, save your incomplete application, gather your documents and submit your claim up to one year later. Your effective date will be preserved if the claim is submitted within one year.

Expediting your disability compensation claim

For some claims, the Decision Ready Claims (DRC) program is the fastest way to get your disability compensation submission processed. The DRC program can accept claims from Veterans requesting an increase to an existing claim, as well as certain claims related to direct service connection, presumptive service connection and secondary service connection. Surviving spouses can also file certain claims for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, and transitioning service members can file pre-discharge claims less than 90 days from leaving the military.

To submit a DRC, you will need to work through an accredited Veterans Service Organization representative who will assist you to ensure all supporting evidence (e.g., medical exams) is included with your claim. This will accelerate the process and provide you with a decision within 30 days from the time VA receives the claim.

Learn more about Decision Ready Claims.

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