The Department of Veterans Affairs has changed the process for veterans to file claims for disability benefits, with the goal of making the application process easier and more efficient.

Veterans seeking disability benefits are now required to use standardized claim and appeal forms. These standardized forms guide veterans to clearly state the symptoms or conditions for which they are seeking benefits and provide the information necessary for VA to start processing their claims and appeals.

“This change will help VA provide faster and more accurate decisions to our veterans, their families and survivors,” said Undersecretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey. “Standard forms are essential to better serve veterans, build more efficiency into VA’s processes and bring us in line with other government agencies such as the Social Security Administration.”

The easiest and fastest way for a veteran to submit an application for compensation is online through the eBenefits (www.ebenefits.va.gov) portal. VA encourages veterans to work with representatives of veterans service organizations, or their state or parish representatives, who can assist with filing electronically or in paper form. Standardized forms are a key component of VA’s transformation, which will help achieve the department’s goal to eliminate the backlog by the end of this year.

Veterans Affairs recognizes that some veterans may need additional time to gather all of the information and evidence needed to support their claim and therefore has established a new intent-to-file-a-claim process. Applicants may notify VA of their intent to file a claim in order to establish the earliest possible effective date for benefits if they are determined eligible. An intent to file a claim may be submitted in one of three ways:

Electronically via eBenefits or with the support of a veterans service organization through the Stakeholder Enterprise Portal.

Completing and mailing a paper VA Form 21-0966, Intent to File a Claim for Compensation and/or Pension, or Survivors Pension and/or DIC.

Over the phone with a VA call center or in person with a public contact representative.

Veterans may appoint a duly authorized representative, such as a VSO, who can notify VA of a claimant’s intent to file using any of the methods listed above. VA will provide an individual up to one year from the date they submit their intent to file a claim to complete the required application form. Veterans may wish to use this one-year period to gather evidence necessary to support the claim so evidence can be submitted along with the application form.