First and foremost, these statements and the attached checklists are presented as a guide for items which are necessary to begin or reengage with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA) claim process. The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs does not suggest that any veteran navigate the USDVA process alone/ Every veteran, dependent, and survivor of a veteran should seek assistance from an accredited representative prior to contacting the USDVA.
If you believe that you have a claim for benefits, contact your nearest Accredited Veterans Service Representative TODAY! The USDVA allows you to notify them of your Intent to File (ITF) a claim up to one year prior to the actual submission of the claim package. This ITF establishes the effective date of your veterans claim and is the date from which all benefits should be paid.
All Claims for benefits from the USDVA require the same basic documents – Click here to print a copy of the required documentation needed when submitting a claim to the USDVA.
- Military Service Discharge Documents
- DD-214 or other Discharge Documents Issued at Time of Service (DD-214 Member Copy 4 is the preferred copy to be submitted with a claim for VA benefits.) Note: If you have more than one DD-214 you will need to provide each one for submission to the USDVA
- Discharges which are Other Than Honorable (OTH) and Dishonorable will have to be examined for potential upgrade prior to gaining eligibility for benefits from USDVA.
- Complete the attached General Information form prior to meeting with your advisor.
- If you are married you will need to provide proof of marriage to include the date and place of current marriage and your spouse’s social security number and date of birth. If either you or your spouse have any prior marriages you will need to provide the names of those spouses, dates and places of marriages, the reason the marriage ended, and the date and place of the termination of the marriage.
- If you have dependent children, under age 23 who are full time students, you will need to provide their full names, dates of birth, and social security numbers as well. If you have an adopted child or children, we will need copies of the FINAL decree of adoption for that child/children as well.
- You will need to have a VOIDED check to be submitted with the claim to verify your banking information so that the USDVA can set up your direct deposit.
- SERVICE CONNECTION CLAIMS ONLY: If you have a current rating for one or more service connected conditions bring a copy of the most recent USDVA Rating Decision for review by your Service Officer if possible.
- WIDOWERS/S PENSION OR DEPENDENCY AND INDEMNITY COMPENSATION ONLY: If you are filing claims for benefits due to the service of a war time veteran or a veteran whose death you believe is related to military service or to a service connected condition, you will need to provide a copy of the veteran’s Death Certificate.
Your relationship with your Accredited Representative
38 USC 5107(a) states clearly: Except as otherwise provided by law, a claimant has the responsibility to present and support a claim for benefits under laws administered by the Secretary.
- If your representative is not accredited by the USDVA to present claims to the USDVA on your behalf the ADVA suggests finding someone who is accredited immediately. Note: It is against federal regulations for a non-accredited individual or business to assist in the preparation of claim.
- Your Accredited Representative is a trained professional who is there to guide you through the VA process and to ensure that your paperwork is completed correctly and presented to the USDVA in a timely manner. Their advice and counsel can be invaluable to not only receiving all the benefits to which you are entitled, but also to retaining the benefits you are currently receiving. Listen to your representative; they are being paid to represent you and to act in your best interest.
- Regardless of the professional ability of your representative, the claim is still the ultimate responsibility of the claimant. If you are unsure of any action being taken by your representative, ask for an explanation and ask for them to provide the references for their actions.
- Be proactive but also be understanding that claims for VA benefits can be a multi-year undertaking, and if your representative is tracking your claim they are probably doing the best that they can once the paperwork is in the hands of the USDVA.
- Veterans who are currently receiving benefits from the USDVA should always be cautious when deciding whether to reopen claims. There is always the risk that the USDVA could find information which indicates that a current disability is improving or bring to light a previous error in the veteran’s favor which could result in a new, reduced rating decision or the severance of service connection. Check with your Service Officer prior to reopening any claim with the USDVA.