Eligibility and Documentation

Eligibility and Documentation

Double Checking Your Documentation and Eligibility

The eligibility for each VA benefit is different from the next because they’re represented by different laws passed by Congress at different times. Each criterion, therefore, is unique to the lawmakers who created the law to authorize it at a specific time.

This is an example of why it can take so long to get processed with the VA: many times veterans apply to benefits they are not eligible for, and it takes extra to write responses and reasons for rejections.

If a veteran had an honorable discharge, they’re eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill education program, but if a veteran received a general discharge, they are not eligible. However, many benefits are still available to those with a general discharge that are available for those with an honorable discharge. This is why understanding eligibility can be of major importance in making sure you receive everything you are applicable for.

For more, go to: https://va.org/double-checking-your-documentation-and-eligibility/

Gathering your documents

Not providing adequate paperwork can also bog down the VA’s backlog of veterans benefits claims. Two principal things are mandatory to prove when applying:

  • Veterans must prove their status as a retiree/veteran with a copy of their military discharge form, DD Form 214. The DD Form 214 provides the VA with such information as when and where the veteran served, medals and rewards received, and discharge characterization.
  • A copy of the DD Form 214 is required for most benefits to prove the veteran meets the active-duty service and discharge requirements.
  • Veterans must meet any and all other requirements mandatory for the particular benefit they’re applying for. Each benefit is distinct in its requirements for eligibility from the next benefit. Many veterans have difficulty in applying for and receiving many of the benefits they’re entitled to because there is not a catch-all list of requirements for all benefits.

Supplying examples of proof

Each benefit not only has different criteria from the next, but it also depends on the situation of an individual veteran. For example, citations from military medals and decorations can aid some veterans. If a veteran submits a citation for the award of the Purple Heart (which is awarded to those wounded in combat), it is clear to the VA that the veteran sustained an injury in the line of duty.

Witness statements can also play a part for example of proof. However, make sure accuracy, grammar, and clarity are all accounted for in the statement or else this could have an adverse effect.

Quality over quantity


Having extraneous documentation to support your claims is not as important as having good documentation. Good documentation is considered:

  • Specific: The information you provide through documentation or witness statements need to be appropriate to the benefit desired. The information gathered should be as clear-cut as possible and include precise dates and times, and thorough medical records that detail exact issues and injuries rather than general descriptions. An example of this might be, “The patient is suffering from an injury in the left shoulder caused by shrapnel consistent with wounds received in combat zones,” rather than, “The patient damaged his shoulder.”
  • Verifiable: All information and evidence you provide should be easily verifiable in that you can support it from alternative sources. For example, if one of your claims is that you were wounded in Afghanistan, relevant documentation should be available for the VA to confirm your deployment and service in Afghanistan with deployment orders and unit rosters.
  • Authoritative: This applies particularly to witness statements. A witness statement signed by a commanding officer or platoon leader is more credible than one signed by a family member or friend. Similarly, witness statements by medical doctors or officials concerning treatment or injuries sustained during combat are effective.

It’s important to know the difference between good and bad wording for a witness statement. A good statement could run as follows, “On July 25, 2005, my unit was performing routine, simulated combat training at Fort Hamilton Army Post. I witnessed a tank run over Private Smith’s foot and immediately called medical care. He was subsequently transported to the medical facility for broken bones in his foot.” This statement is concise, clear, and accurate with date and location.

Using the VA’s “duty to assist”

Though veterans don’t have to operate alone, the ability to prove eligibility for a benefit is the individual’s responsibility by law. A law was passed in 2000 by Capitol Hill called the duty to assist that made the VA a compulsory assistant to veterans looking to gather documentation in support of their eligibility for benefits. Under duty to assist the VA is obligated in simple terminology to inform inquirers precisely what documentation is needed to support a claim.

Furthermore, the VA is expected to make an effort in helping veterans require necessary documents, depending on the sources of the records.

  • Federal Records: Only after the VA has made a reasonable effort in confirming a needed document doesn’t exist, or that continued effort is redundant can they desist in helping a veteran obtain a particular document. Additionally, if the VA does come to such a conclusion, they are required by law to inform the individual and provide alternative suggestions.
  • Nonfederal records: Private Doctor Records or sworn witness statements are also under the VA’s jurisdiction for making a reasonable effort to provide. In fact, the VA must send the request themselves. If the documents are not obtained after two months, the VA is required to continue making requests unless there is evidence to suggest the records do not exist or are unavailable.

Nonfederal records, particularly medical records, are of high importance and every attempt to obtain them yourself should be made in addition to the VA. Medical facilities are known to ignore such requests unless issued directly from the patient, not to mention that to obtain certain records a fee is required that the VA is not permitted to pay.

  • Jesus Eduardo Rascon
    Posted at 00:39h, 01 February Reply

    I need a copy of my DD-214 never received one when i got out. I’ve called every number and no success. Thank you for the help.

  • Bethany North
    Posted at 03:22h, 19 October Reply

    What is the fax number where I can sent dd214 request form?

    • Adam
      Posted at 17:15h, 24 October Reply

      After you’ve filled out the application, print, sign and fax to 314 801-9195 (or mail the signature page to the address listed on the request form)

  • Richard Allen Matthews #8714
    Posted at 14:47h, 23 August Reply

    I need a copy of my disable check the income that I receive

    • Adam
      Posted at 16:22h, 24 August Reply

      Please call the disability compensation hotline at 1-800-827-1000

  • Kristen
    Posted at 16:45h, 30 May Reply

    I am in need of help with my rent and light bill. I’m bout to get evicted if I can’t come up with it.. what do I need to do to get funds to help me. I am a veteran who is drawing compensation

  • Lonnie L Duke
    Posted at 14:38h, 28 December Reply

    I need a Veteran’s ID card. Some business’s require one for discounts in there stores. How do I get one?

    • Megan
      Posted at 16:26h, 05 January Reply

      For information on obtaining Veteran’s ID cards see:


      • Richard Valentine
        Posted at 14:25h, 17 October Reply

        In November 2017 the VA will begin issuing a Veterans ID card. How do I apply for one.

        • Adam
          Posted at 18:07h, 17 October Reply

          To apply for the card, veterans must register with Vets.gov, a process that authenticates users through the ID.me system.

  • janis tate
    Posted at 21:37h, 12 December Reply

    I have filed a claim waiting for a hearing the last letter just told me that they would send me a time that it would be awhile and now another year wanting to know were we are at this time on my claim , my husband was in the Navy and in Vietnam here is my case number XC24 707 735 Tate Kenneth William 335/21P I am on the phone for a 27 min wait time so hopefully you can answer my question when my trail is coming up I am appealing because of agent orange and the death of my husband from this shutdown all major organs and I am waiting for my hearing so if you have a date for this because my mail has been messed up at the main box so I want to make sure I didn’t miss the court hearing or if I have to put in another claim .thank you Janis Tate

  • Peter Edman
    Posted at 23:54h, 14 September Reply

    I was recently told that if a veteran does not use VA services for a year,
    all benefits are terminated. Is this true?

  • Barry J. Berman
    Posted at 17:35h, 02 September Reply

    I served six months active duty with the U.S. Army and then 5 1/2 years with the National Guard. My service period began in 1959 and ended in 1965. I did not see combat. Am I a “veteran”?

    • VA.org Editor
      Posted at 18:16h, 06 September Reply

      The term “veteran” means a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable. See here for more information: https://www.va.gov/opa/persona/index.asp

  • tom welder
    Posted at 00:28h, 03 June Reply

    my wife and i need a copy of our dd214

  • Steven Williamson
    Posted at 19:47h, 06 May Reply

    I am in need of changing my address with the VA. I used to be able to online but i cant find it now.

  • Jane Marshall
    Posted at 22:55h, 13 April Reply

    I need form 21-2680 and form 21-526EZ.

    I cannot find them on this website.

    Can you help me please.

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