The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA)
When applying for your benefits, you will primarily be dealing with the Veterans Benefits Administration, or VBA.
Veterans Online Application (VONAPP)
Most of the veterans benefits claim processes are available online, and provide a faster, easier way to apply for and receive your benefits. Veterans and their survivors are encouraged to use the Veterans Online Application system, or VONAPP, to apply for pensions, disability, education and employment benefits.
- In many cases, you can complete most of the benefits application process through VONAPP without having to submit additional paper documentation, because your secure registration through VONAPP makes it unnecessary.
- For veterans and survivors in rural areas, with significant employment obligations who cannot take the time to go to a VBA location, or who have mobility issues that make any travel outside of the home difficult, using VONAPP makes application easy where it would otherwise be difficult or impossible.
- The VONAPP benefits application process is usually quicker and less costly than applying by mail.
To register for VONAPP, visit the website at http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/
VBA Regional Offices and Phone Number
Many veterans prefer to conduct their benefits claim process in-person and/or with physical documentation. If you would rather apply for your benefits this way, you can visit a VBA office near you to start a claim or to pick up the appropriate forms.
VBA offices are divided into 5 regions: North Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, Continental, and Pacific.
To find the VBA office nearest to you, visit http://www.va.gov/directory/guide/division.asp?dnum=3&isflsh=0.
If you have trouble viewing the above link, visit http://www.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp?isFlash=0 and select “Benefits Office” from the drop-down menu titled “Facility”.
You can also call the VBA at 1-800-827-1000 to receive assistance over the phone.
Filing a Benefits Claim
The benefits claim filing process has been streamlined to make it as easy as possible for veterans to receive the benefits they are entitled to, from enrollment to appeals.
Enrollment for Benefits
Before you file a claim, make sure you enrolled in the VA benefit system. You can do this online by enrolling at the eBenefits website at www.ebenefits.va.gov. Some benefits will redirect you to VONAPP through eBenefits, while others will go through eBenefits directly.
- If you prefer to file claims with paper forms, visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/BENEFITS/Applying.asp for copies of the forms related to the benefits program you are applying for and suggestions on how to submit them.
- For health benefits related claims, visit https://www.1010ez.med.va.gov/ to fill out VA Form 10-10EZ, “Application for Health Benefits”, online. The site also provides the information needed to enroll over the phone or by printing out the form and mailing it in.
Assistance with Filing a Benefits Claim
The claims process can be intimidating for any veteran. If you need assistance, you can ask for help at the Veterans Service Organization (VSO) office at your VA regional office or at the VA medical center or clinic where you will be receiving care.
Veterans Service Officers will help you to make sure that you have all of the proper paperwork and that your forms are all filled out correctly so that your claim is processed quickly and efficiently. In addition, accredited Veterans Services Officers can legally represent you in your claims application and/or appeals process.
Fully Developed Claims
If you are filing a claim for disability compensation, pensions, or survivor benefits, the VA has implemented an initiative called the Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program to help you receive your benefits months faster. Note: VA health care claims or educational assistance are not part of the FDC initiative.
When you file a Fully Developed Claim, you present all the evidence related to your claim at once, and certify that you have provided all relevant information. This speeds up the process since the VA does not have to review your claim for any additional information needed to make a ruling.
However, you must make sure you have included all relevant information, since the VA will move forward with its decision-making process with the evidence presented, even if you missed something crucial to a successful claim. A VSO or other representative can help you to make sure that you have all of the evidence you need.
For a checklist of the evidence you will need at each stage of the claims process, visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/FDC/checklist.asp.
For more general information on filing a Fully Developed Claim, visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/fdc/