What are the Different VA Forms I Might Encounter?

February 11, 2022

When applying for disability compensation and benefits, there are multiple forms a veteran may encounter along the process.  The VA website offers helpful information about the process for filing each of the forms listed below. For additional support in filing with the VA, contact Andrew Gross, Esquire, to see how a seasoned Veterans Advocacy lawyer can help you. 

Additionally, for select forms, the VA website provides both an automated online form, which can be filled out online and submitted with a click of a button, and a PDF printout that can be filled out by hand and mailed to the VA. 

Application for Compensation

If the Veteran does not want to apply online through the VA’s eBenefits portal, they must complete an Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits (VA Form 21-526EZ). 

When the Veteran submits this form, they should also submit some of the VA forms listed below.

If they do not receive a desirable VA decision, the veteran may consider reaching out to a seasoned Veterans Advocacy lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew P. Gross.

Medical Records Release

The VA will request medical records in the custody of the federal government on the Veteran’s behalf without the Veteran having to file a separate “HIPAA” release form, as long as the Veteran tells the VA that those records exist. This includes records from military hospitals at the Department of Defense, as well as hospitals and clinics run by the Veterans Health Administration.

If the veteran has been seen by a non-VA medical provider, such as a doctor or physical therapist, they may file VA Form 21-4142a and/or VA Form 21-4142 to give the VA permission to request those medical records from the non-VA medical provider’s office.

  • The General Release for Medical Provider Information to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA Form 21-4142a) authorizes the VA to obtain medical provider information from a non-VA source, like a private doctor or hospital. This includes the name and address of a facility and the veteran’s medical treatment dates.
  • The Authorization to Disclose Information to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA Form 21-4142) authorizes the VA to obtain the veteran’s personal information from a non-VA source, like a private doctor or hospital. Examples of personal information may include the veteran’s medical treatment, hospitalizations, psychotherapy, or outpatient care.

Intent to File

When applying for disability compensation, the veteran will likely encounter the Intent to File a Claim for Compensation and/or Pension (VA Form 21-0966)

  • The Veteran will use this form when they are still gathering information to support their claim but want to secure the earliest possible effective date for any retroactive payments that arise out of their claim for compensation. 
  • The Intent to File is NOT an application for compensation and benefits – the application (VA Form 21-526EZ, see above) will need to be filed separately in order to have your claim reviewed.
  • In order to maintain the effective date of the Intent to File, the completed application must be filed within one year.

Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability

The Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability may be used by the veteran on a case-by-case basis (VA Form 21-8940) when Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability is at issue.

  • As long as there is evidence in the record that the vet is unemployed or unemployable, the VA has a duty to assist the veteran in developing their claim to the fullest, the VA has a duty to send this form to a Veteran to complete. Technically, a failure to return this letter should not result in a denial of TDIU
  • Despite the VA’s duty to assist, the veteran may choose to proactively file VA Form 21-8940. It’s also a good idea for veterans to write a statement in support of the claim about how their disability impacts their ability to work.

Lay/Witness Statement, formerly the Statement in Support of Claim

If the veteran determines that a witness statement will be helpful to support their claim, they may submit the Lay/Witness Statement (VA Form 21-10210).

  • This form may be submitted along with other evidence to supplement the Application for Compensation, the Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability, and the Supplemental Claim form (see above). 

What If I disagree with the VA’s Decision?

When the VA reaches a decision on an issue, it will send the Veteran a rating decision, along with information on how to appeal. Depending on the particular appeal “lane” the Veteran wants to utilize, the Veteran or their representative will complete one of three forms: The Supplemental Claim, the Higher Level Review, or the Board Appeal.  

Supplemental Claim

If the Veteran receives a decision that they disagree with, they may use the Decision Review Request: Supplemental Claim form (VA Form 20-0995) if they want the VA to consider additional evidence.

  • This form is used to submit evidence that is new and relevant to the Veteran’s case. This new evidence will be reviewed to determine if a new decision can be reached regarding the veteran’s claim. The Veteran can also ask the VA to retrieve additional records that are in the possession of the federal government, such as records from VA medical centers or Department of Defense facilities.
  • To preserve the effective date of the original claim, new evidence must be submitted via the Supplemental Claim form within one year from the date on the veteran’s decision letter.

Higher-Level Review

If the veteran receives a decision they disagree with, whether it is from an initial claim or a supplemental claim, they may want to use the Decision Review Request: Higher-Level Review form (VA Form 20-0996).

  • This form is used to request to have a senior reviewer take a new look at the veteran’s claim, in cases where no new evidence can be submitted, in order to determine whether the decision can be changed based on a difference of opinion or error. 
  • The Veteran cannot, however, request a Higher-Level Review of a rating decision from a Higher Level Review. If a Higher-Level Review results in a rating decision that cites a “duty to assist error,” the VA will conduct additional development on the claim, and then issue a second rating decision. A Veteran can file a Higher-Level Review on that second rating decision. (Yes, this can get a bit confusing).

Board Appeal

If the veteran receives an initial decision, a decision after their Supplemental Claim, or a decision after their Higher-Level Review request, that they disagree with, they may utilize the Decision Review Request: Board Appeal form (VA Form 10182).

  • This form is used to appeal the claim to a Veterans Law Judge (VLJ) at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington D.C. VLJs are experts in Veterans law and will review the case.
  • The Veteran has one year from the date on their decision letter to request a Board Appeal. 

If a Veteran does not receive a decision they are satisfied with, they may consider reaching out to a seasoned Veterans Advocacy lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew P. Gross.