If you’re like me, you avoid going to the doctor. In fact, one survey done by Orlando Health found that people, especially men, dislike going to the doctor so much that they have a top list of excuses. I can tell you I’ve used the top three plenty of times: 1) too busy, 2) scared to find out something might be wrong and 3) uncomfortable with certain types of exams. Prostate exam, anyone? But, going to the doctor is part of the routine while you’re in the military and one of the most important things you need to do before you separate or retire. This is the first step if you want to file a VA Medical Claim once you become a civilian.
The next step in your pursuit of a medical claim is to contact the VA as early as possible. They offer a pre-discharge program called Benefits Delivery at Discharge. If you wish to file a disability claim, you’re authorized to file as early as 180 days prior to separation. Processing times are shorter for those who file a claim prior to their discharge. If you’re already separated, the VA should still be your next stop. Their counselors will assist you in processing your claim. The most important documents you’ll need are:
- DD214 Discharge or separation paperwork
- Service Treatment Records
- Any doctor or hospital reports since you separated related to the injury or disability you’re claiming.
If you don’t have the records, don’t worry. The counselor assigned to you will help you obtain the documents you need.
Veterans Affairs also offers an online tool to file a claim if you can’t make it in to work with someone in person. You’ll need to access the eBenefits website, create an account, and upload all pertinent documentation. If you have questions at any time during the process, you can still contact the VA to walk you through the process.
Three easy ways to access the VA to file a claim and get more information:
- Visit their website: https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/apply.asp
- Call toll free: 1-800-827-1000
- Visit your local VA Office. Locations can be found by visiting the VA website or calling the phone number above.