How do I apply for VA Benefits?

October 5, 2021

Often, Veterans will call the Law Office of Andrew P. Gross, LLC looking for advice on filing for VA Disability Benefits. Applying is actually fairly easy, and you do not even need an attorney for that step of the process! Before you apply, there are several things you are going to need available to you for your application:

  • Your banking information (so the VA can deposit your benefits directly into your account);
  • Your service information, including your branch of service, the years you served, and whether or not you spend time in the reserves or National Guard; and
  • The locations of where you have been treated.

The VA has what is called a “Duty to Assist” you as a Veteran when it comes to developing the claim, so if you give them enough information, they will retrieve the following items for you:

  • Medical records from VA facilities you have seen for treatment;
  • Medical records from your time in service; and
  • Your military service record.

They will also search the National Archives and other Government records for corroboration of traumatic events that may give rise to PTSD, if you provide the VA with sufficient information to locate the records. This might include a description, as well as the date and location of the traumatic event or events.

You can even ask the VA to retrieve medical records from your private doctors. In order to have the VA request those records, you need to submit VA Forms 21-4142 and 21-4142a.

Apply for VA Benefits Online

If you are able to use a computer with internet access, the easiest way to apply is via the VA’s website. First, you have to create a free account with, if you do not have one. If you already see a VA doctor, you might also have a My HealtheVet account that can be used to log in to the VA’s Disability Benefits Application.

Through the online portal, you can submit an application by following the prompts and entering the information as you proceed. If you have copies of your medical records, whether from your time in the military or afterwards, you can upload the information through the portal. You can also upload supporting information, such as buddy statements or nexus letters, if you have them. Starting the online application will serve as your Intent to File. The Intent to File, in this case the start of the application, creates a placeholder that will be used to determine the effective date for providing you with your benefits.

Apply for VA Benefits By Mail or Fax

The VA website has any form you may need to file a claim for benefits. You can also go to your Regional Office of Veterans Affairs to get a paper copy of the forms needed. To start the process of applying for benefits, it is important to start with VA Form 21-0966, the Intent to File form. The filing of this form creates a placeholder that will be used to determine the effective date for providing you with your benefits.

Within one year of sending in the Intent to File, you will need to submit an Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits, using VA Form 21-526EZ. This form is essentially the same as the online application, and will allow you to include supporting information.

You can send the Intent to File and the Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits via mail to:


U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Janesville, WI 53547-4444

Or, you can fax it to:

(844) 531-7818 (inside the U.S.)
(248) 524-4260 (outside the U.S.)


You can also take your paper application to the Regional Office of Veterans Affairs located near you to hand it in for processing.

Need More Help? Contact Experienced VA Benefits Attorney Andrew P. Gross to Get Started

The VA allows for trained professionals to assist in filing a claim for disability compensation. These trained professionals are called accredited representatives. Accredited representatives can be found either by:

  • Going to eBenefits to find a local representative, including a recognized Veteran’s Service Office, attorney, or a claims agent; or
  • Searching the VA Office of the General Counsel’s list to find VA-recognized organizations and VA-accredited individuals by name, city, state, or zip code.

You can also inform the VA of your intent to be represented by an attorney or other individual by filing an Appointment of an Individual as Claimant’s Representative form: VA Form 21-22A. If you are looking for a seasoned Veteran’s Advocacy lawyer to assist you, contact Andrew Gross, esquire, at the Law Office of Andrew P. Gross