How to File an Initial Claim
If you would like to file an initial claim or submit a new claim you need to complete VA Form 21-526EZ which can be obtained by clicking here. Along with this form you need to submit a copy of your DD 214. Once completed, the form and DD 214 should be filed with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The documents can me submitted by mail, fax or online. Be sure to keep proof of your submission. If you submit by mail, use certified mail and keep your certified mail receipt. If you submit by fax keep a copy of your fax confirmation page.
Here is how you contact the Department of Veterans Affairs:
Department of Veterans Affairs
Evidence Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Janesville, WI. 53547-4444
Foreign Claims Fax: (248) 524-4260
What to Expect After Filing
Once your paperwork is submitted, the VA will pull your military records and begin processing your claim. If required the VA will request additional medical evidence from you and/or have you participate in a Compensation & Pension Exam (aka C&P Exams). Thereafter, the VA will issue a formal finding known as a Rating Decision.
What is a Rating Decision?
After the submission of an initial claim, the VA will send a notification letter to the Veteran confirming their receipt. The VA will then start to gather information to make a determination on the merits of the claim. The VA may then decide to schedule a Veteran for a Compensation and Pension Exam, known as a C&P exam, to determine if service-connection is warranted and/or to determine the level of severity of the disability. After the fact finding process is complete a decision has been rendered, the VA will issue a Rating Decision which goes through each claim and lists whether service connection was granted.
The Rating Decision will list your dates of active duty service and military branch. The first portion of the Decision will list each claim separately and state whether the claim has been approved, provide a disability rating and the assigned effective date.
The second portion of the Decision will bullet list all of the evidence used by the VA in rendering its decision. The Decision will state the reasons and basis for the decision. The VA will list the applicable portions of the Code of Federal Regulations which applies to each claim and discuss why the application percent rating was assigned for each claimed condition. It will also provide a list of any “Favorable Findings” noted by the adjudicator.
Lastly, the Decision will provide the Veteran with information on how to file an appeal.
Rating Decisions should also include a coverpage and Codesheet. The Codesheet shows the Diagnostic Code Section assigned to each disability, provides the disability percentage and effective date. It will also show the total combined rating of the Veteran if more than one condition is listed.