There can be a ton of forms to fill out when you are applying for VA Disability. Here is a guide to help you.
If you’re a veteran, you know that VA benefits can help you live a closer-to-normal life with a disability. A monthly, tax-free veteran’s disability check can go to pay bills, living expenses, a truck payment, or whatever else you need. Some of our clients have paid off their mortgages or put a long-overdue roof on their house with their back pay.
Maybe you’re applying for VA disability for the first time. Perhaps you’ve been denied and you’re looking to appeal that ruling. Or maybe you’re a surviving spouse or child of a veteran, trying to navigate this new system.
Either way, it’s no secret that the world of VA forms can be confusing. With so many to choose from, it can be hard to know which one you need and how to begin.
Here is a closer look at some of the most common VA disability forms available. For each form, we’ll share what it is, why you need it, how to access it, and associated medical conditions. Read on to discover the details you need to know.
The VA Forms We Explain In This Article:
- Why Do You Need Form 20-0996?
- Common Conditions
- VA Form 21-0781 for PTSD
- VA Form 21-8940 for Unemployability
- VA Form VA-10182: The NOD (Notice of Disagreement)
- VA Form 21-4192
- VA Form 21-4138 (Also Known as 4138)
- Navigate Your VA Disability Forms With Ease
VA Form 20-0996
Months after you apply, you might receive a decision on your application for VA disability benefits that you don’t agree with. If so, you’re within your rights to request a higher-level review of the decision.
You can do so by completing and submitting VA Form 20-0996: Decision Review Request: Higher-Level Review.
This form prompts a senior reviewer to take a second look at your case. From there, the reviewer can determine if the decision needs to be changed due to the following factors:
- A difference of opinion
- An error in the previous ruling
Why Do You Need Form 20-0996?
You may need VA Form 20-0996 if you receive an unsatisfactory decision after submitting an initial claim or supplemental claim. You can choose to disagree with only specific issues or all of them. If you single out issues, you’ll need to list the VA decision date for each one.
Upon receiving your decision letter, you have one year to submit this form to request a Higher-Level Review. Note that you can only submit one of these forms per claim, meaning that you cannot submit a subsequent Form 20-0996 in response to a previous Higher-Level Review or a Board Appeal.
While you cannot submit any evidence in support of your rebuttal, you or your representative can speak on the telephone with the new reviewer. During this conversation, you can identify any errors in the initial decision or explain why you believe it was made in error.
After submitting the form, it’s time to wait. The VA usually takes around four to five months to reply to such requests. We will monitor the process and get back to you as soon as we hear from the VA. If you need additional documents or more claim development, we’ll let you know what we need.
VA Form 20-0996 is not strictly associated with any specific medical condition and can be used to request a Higher-Level Review on any VA claim. On Part I of the form, you’ll usually select “compensation” as the associated benefit type.
VA Form 21-0781 for PTSD
The number of veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) varies by service area. For instance, up to 20 out of every 100 veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) are diagnosed with PTSD every year, and around 30% of Vietnam War veterans will experience PTSD in their lifetime.
If you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, VA benefits can help you receive the treatment you need. When you issue a claim for a PTSD service connection, you’ll also need VA Form 21-0781: Statement in Support of Claim For Service Connection For Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Why Do You Need Form 21-0781?
VA Form 21-0781 allows you to document and detail the stressful events that you encountered during your military service that led to your PTSD disorder. For each incident or event, you’ll need to disclose the following details:
- What happened
- The date it occurred
- The geographic location
- Your unit assignment
- The dates of your assignment
Through the details provided in this form, the VA can research your military records and other identified sources (military or non-military) to confirm the link between these events and your condition. In addition to your records, the information can also come from:
- Military or civilian authorities with records of your incident report
- Treatment records (e.g., from rape crisis centers, counseling facilities, health clinics)
- Statements from close friends or colleagues (e.g. roommates, family members, clergy, chaplains, service members)
- Personal diaries or journals
The VA Rating formula for mental health conditions like PTSD, depression, and other mental health disorders is explained by one of our veterans’ disability lawyers in this video:
VA Form 21-0781 is associated with PTSD. This is classified as Code 9411 as an anxiety disorder under the Psychological Rating System.
VA Form 21-8940 for Unemployability
Are you suffering from a service-related disability that has kept you out of work? If so, you need access to VA Form 21-8940: Veteran’s Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability. This form can help you request supplemental compensation to make up for your lack of steady income.
This form is designed for any veteran who experienced a total disability that has kept them from securing or following a substantially gainful occupation.
Why Do You Need Form 21-8940?
Veterans who have a disability and meet certain medical criteria might qualify for additional disability benefits like SMC or A&A.
If you’re approved, you may qualify to receive disability compensation or benefits at a level equivalent to a veteran with a 100% disability rating. For this to be the case, both of the following must be true:
- You have at least one service-connected disability rated at 60% or higher or at least two service-connected disabilities with a combined rating of 70% or higher (at least one rated 40% or higher)
- Your service-related disability has rendered you unable to hold a steady job that offers adequate financial support (substantially gainful employment)
This form is appropriate for any veteran suffering from any service-related disability that has kept them from substantially gainful employment. This does not include odd jobs that offer marginal employment.
Some of the most common conditions that can lead to this claim include mental health conditions, such as:
In addition, it can also be caused by physical ailments, including:
It may be difficult to get 100% TDIU from one disability, but here one of our VA disability lawyers talks about common disabilities that add up to a 100% combined rating.
VA Form VA-10182: The NOD (Notice of Disagreement)
If you have received a decision on your VA benefits that you believe to be incorrect, you can take the motion to a higher level. To do so, you will need VA Form VA-10182: Decision Review Request: Board Appeal (Notice of Disagreement).
This form requests that your decision goes to a Veterans Law Judge at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, located in Washington, D.C. This judge will be an expert in veterans law.
Why Do You Need Form VA-10182?
If you feel that your claim decision was wrong, VA-10182 can help you request a second, higher opinion. You can request a Board Appeal after an initial claim or supplemental claim. In addition, you can also request it following a Higher-Level Review decision (requested under VA Form 20-0996).
You have up to one year from the date on your decision letter to submit VA Form VA-10182, unless your request is deemed to be part of a contested claim. The only caveat? You cannot request a subsequent Board Appeal following the first one conducted for the same claim.
When you submit this form, you can choose from one of three options. These are described in greater detail on the form.
Option 1: Direct Review
If you choose Option 1, you want a Veterans Law Judge to personally review your appeal. Rather than submitting new evidence, you’re simply requesting a new set of eyes on evidence that has already been submitted.
Under this option, you cannot submit evidence. You also cannot request a hearing. You will have to wait around a year to learn the final decision.
Option 2: Evidence Submission
Under this option, you can submit additional evidence to the Veterans Law Judge for review. You will need to submit this evidence within 90 days of the date that the VA receives your VA-10182 submission. You can expect to wait more than a year to hear back.
Option 3: Hearing Request
Finally, you can also choose to request an actual hearing with a Veterans Law Judge. This can take one of three forms:
- A virtual, at-home hearing
- A video conference at a local VA location
- An in-person hearing at the VA Board, located in Washington, D.C.
With this option, you can choose to submit new, additional evidence. You can choose to either submit this information at the hearing or no more than 90 days afterward. Note that you do not have to include evidence to hold a hearing. Either way, the event will be transcribed and the record will be added to your comprehensive appeal file.
As with Option 2, this process will take more than a year to complete.
VA Form 1VA-10182 applies to any veteran who requires a higher-level review of their disability claim. It is not associated with a specific medical condition.
VA Form 21-4192
Are you preparing to file a VA Individual Unemployability Claim? If so, filing VA Form 21-8940 (described above) is your first step. Next, the VA will require the completion of VA Form 21-4192: Request for Employment Information in Connection With Claim For Disability Benefits.
The VA will submit this form to each former employer with the name and contact information you included in VA Form 21-8940. Its purpose? To allow the VA to glean valuable information about your time at each company. Key details that the VA is interested in include:
- When you stopped working
- Why you stopped working
- How long you worked prior to leaving
- If you were experiencing any medical issues at work
Why Do You Need Form 21-4192?
The VA requires access to the information in VA Form 21-4192 to conduct a review that is as fair as possible. The details that your employers provide can help round out your case and give credence to your claim.
Note that if you are submitting this form years after leaving a now-defunct company, it’s in your best interest to inform the VA on Form 21-8940 that the company is no longer in operation.
To avoid experiencing any delays in your benefits, it’s also best to contact your current and former employers before submitting this form. Some companies may require privacy waivers before they’ll be willing to release personal information.
VA Form 21-4192 can be submitted for any service-related disability that has led you to submit a claim for individual unemployability. This includes the same mental and physical disabilities as described for VA Form 21-8940.
VA Form 21-4138 (Also Known as 4138)
When it comes to your VA disability claim, you can never supply too many supporting details. This is one of the reasons why VA Form 21-4138: Statement in Support of Claim (Fillable) is so important.
Also known simply as 4138, this is a more general form used by the VA to collect personal information about you. Important details include:
- Your full name
- Your address
- Your social security number
- A statement that supports your claim
Why Do You Need Form 4138?
VA Form 21-4138 includes critical information that the VA needs to know in order to file your claim correctly. This can help the VA assess the legitimacy of your claim and process it quicker.
Before making a final decision on your claim, the VA will review this form in full.
This form is appropriate for a range of service-related conditions. If your condition has led you to see VA benefits for medical treatment or compensation, VA Form 21-4138 is a necessary addition to your paperwork.
Navigate Your VA Disability Forms With Ease
If you’re a veteran seeking VA benefits for a disability caused by your time in service, the process should be as easy as possible.
Yet, filing for VA disability can often lead to paths wrought with potholes and roadblocks. Instead of tackling them on your own, let our team help. We’re well-versed in veterans law and can help you achieve the compensation you deserve.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed or suspect you have a service-related condition, let’s talk. Fill out our online contact form or contact us today to connect.
At Woods and Woods, the Veteran’s Firm, we’ve helped thousands of veterans with their VA disability applications and appeals. We’ve been adding staff and lawyers during the Covid pandemic to better serve disabled veterans in difficult times.
Call us today to discuss your VA disability appeal or your first application. The call is free and we won’t charge you a single fee until we win your case. We even pay for the postage for all of the documentation you send to our office. You can look for a VA disability attorney near you or call us and join the thousands of veterans living off of VA disability thanks to Woods and Woods.
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