Types of VA Disability Compensation Claims
Generally, there are three methods to apply for disability compensation, each with different timelines to receive benefits.
Decision Ready Claims Program
The fastest method of applying is through the VA’s Decision Ready Claims (DRC) program. This program requires you to work with an accredited Veterans Service Organization (VSO) but generally processes claims in 30 days or less.
As of now, the only types of claims the DRC program processes are:
- Conditions that began during, or caused by, service (Direct Service Connection Claim)
- Conditions that are believed to be caused by military service with no direct evidence (Presumptive Service Connection Claim)
- Conditions caused or made worse by a service-connected disability (Secondary Service Connection Claim)
- A current disability claim that is medically proven to have gotten worse (Increased Disability Claim)
- Claims for eligible surviving spouses (Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Claim)
- Claims for service members with less than 90 days before separating from the military (Pre-Discharge Claim)
There are additional restrictions for filing under the DRC program. Those applying can consult their VSO to determine if the DRC program is right for them.
Fully Developed Disability Claims
The next fasted option is the Fully Developed Disability Claims (FDDC) program.
The primary difference between the FDDC program and filing a standard claim is the Veteran must provide all evidence upfront and certify there’s no additional evidence needed to make a claim decision.
At a minimum, the Veteran should provide:
- All military personnel records on the condition, and
- All service treatment records on the condition, and
- All private (non-VA) medical records on the condition, and
- All VA health records or supplementary information about related VA health records that the VA can request on your behalf
If the VA requires additional information, the claim typically gets removed from the FDDC program and is processed as a standard claim.
Standard VA Disability Claims
With standard VA disability claims, the VA gathers evidence and compiles all supporting documents.
If the VA is unable to obtain a needed document, they may require your help. When help is required, it typically applies to documents not held by a federal agency, such as private medical records, employer information, and documents from state or local governments.
As with all claims programs, be prepared to provide your DD214 (or other separation documents), service treatment records, VA medical records, and private medical records about your claim. Those needing help applying for their VA disability claim may also work with an accredited attorney, claims agent, or Veterans Service Officer (VSO).
Combined Rating System for Veterans with Multiple Disabilities
Veterans with multiple disabilities use the combined rating system.
To use the combined rating system, arrange the disabilities in order by severity and locate the intersect of the two numbers on the table below.
The VA rounds the final figure to the nearest to 10 percent.
If the Veteran has more than two disabilities, find the combined value for the first two, without rounding, and repeat with the third disability. Once you have a final number, round to the nearest 10%.
For example, if disability 1’s rating is 40% and disability 2’s is 20%, the combined rating is 52%. That figure gets rounded to the nearest 10%, making the disability rating 50%.
For a three-disability example, if disability 1’s rating is 60%, disability 2’s rating is 30%, and disability 3’s rating is 20%, we first find the rating of 1 and 2. The rating of 1 and 2 comes out to be 72. We then take the first combined rating and find the intersect with disability 3. The final number comes out at an even 80% rating.