VFW Post 3258 offers two Service Officers to assist and educate our Veterans in wading through all the confusing forms and red tape when trying to find out about the benefits they earned through their military service. You need not be a member of the VFW either, because as a Veteran, this is a service you've earned. All assistance provided by our Service Officers is of course, free of charge.
The Veterans Administration handles a multitude of Federal Benefits for qualified Service Members, some of which include compensation and pension, health care, vocational rehabilitation & employment, education & training, home loans, life insurance, dependents & survivors, and burial benefits. Our Service Officers will serve as your focal point when dealing with these issues and make the process a lot easier to understand.
Some of the services we assist the Veteran with are as follows;
- Assist veterans who are filing original claims for compensation and/or
pension with the Department of Veterans Affairs and assist in completing the required VA forms on behalf of the claimant.
- Assist veterans in reopening claims for service-connected disabilities and help to complete the required VA forms.
- Follow up on status of claims filed by veterans with the VA Regional Office.
- File Notice of Disagreement with the VA Regional Office if a veteran believes the decision made by the VA was incorrect.
- Review statements of the case from the VA regarding denials of claim and assist veterans with the preparation of responses.
- Assist veterans or surviving spouses in the preparation of appeals for denial of claims and file the appeals with the local VA Regional Office for forwarding to the Board of Veterans Appeals in Washington, D.C.
- Complete VA Forms other than for original claims.
- Offer research and advice to veterans who wish to handle their own claims.
So, if you have any questions or need assistance, contact one of our Service Officers below, or stop down to one of our meetings and we will be more than happy to assist you.
Thinking about filing a VA Claim?
The claims process in the VA is typically thought of as a daunting process. It is, and can be made even more difficult without a proper road map. Below are several steps that should make this process a little more manageable.
First of all - one needs to know that this process of filing a claim is 100% free. There is, nor will there ever be, a charge for this service. If anyone is telling you there's a cost involved - run away as fast as you can!
Secondly - one need not be a member of the VFW, or any service organization, such as the American Legion, Am Vets, Viet Nam Vets of America, MOPH etc in order to file a claim. Each organization has service officers connected to it whose sole duty is to assist Veterans in navigating these waters. We do it because we want to see our fellow Veterans get the care and compensation they earned. A claim is not an award. It is not an entitlement. Veterans bought and paid for these services through their hard work, blood, sweat and tears. It has been earned.
If you are considering filing a claim, one of the first things you should to do is to contact your VFW Service Officer. Chalfont VFW Post 3258 has two: Bill Malone and Charlie Skitsko. Either of these men will be more than happy to assist you in navigating the VA paperwork.
If you'd like to get a head start and begin filling out the paperwork yourself (which you will need to do anyway). The following forms are required:
- http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-22-ARE.pdf This is the Power of Attorney form allowing the VFW to represent you for the claims submission. In order for the VFW, or any organization, to process your paperwork, you will need this form.
- http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-4138-ARE.pdf This form is to be used in support of a continuing claim. For instance, the claimant has submitted a claim, and a rating was awarded, now, a few years later, the condition has worsened – this form should then be used to highlight the addition information. If new doctors are involved, the medical release form 21-4142 and 4242a will also be required.
- http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-526EZ-ARE.pdf This is the actual claim form. You only need to fill in those areas pertaining to your claim. The instructions are pretty informative but in the case of doubt, your Service Officer can guide you.
- http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-4142-ARE.pdf This authorizes the VA to access your medical records from the doctors you listed in the above forms.
- http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-0781-ARE.pdf If you are requesting a PTSD diagnosis, this form must be submitted along with the above paperwork.
- In addition you will need a copy of your DD214 submitted with the claim.
- If you are married, a copy of the marriage certificate (this will increase the amount of the award and it’s always easier to have it supplied with the initial claim as it speeds everything up).
- If you have children under the age of 18, then supply birth certificates as well. Again it’s the same as the marriage certificate and speeds things up.
- You will also need a blank check, with VOID written across the face of it so they can have your account number and routing information – for when they deposit the money.
Just to make the entire process interesting - there are two additional forms one may need depending on the circumstances.
- https://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-20-0995-ARE.pdf This form is called a Supplemental Claim and is to be used if one receives a determination, but does not agree with the ruling. Submitting this form will require new additional evidence, along with a write up on the claimants part as to why they disagree. Additionally, if possible, a doctors write up as well indicating the initial VA determination is possibly incorrect. This forces the VA to reevaluate the initial finding in this new light.
- In the case one doesn't agree with the findings, but doesn't have any additional evidence from a doctor, then the following form is to be used - Decision Review Request - Higher Level Review: https://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-20-0996-ARE.pdf This form requests as it states, a higher level review. However the review will be based upon the previous evidence submitted. It is always wise to accompany this form as well, with a letter indicating why the disagreement.
As a last resort the Veteran can always file a VA form 10182 https://www.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA10182.pdf which is a direct appeal to a VA Law Judge in Washington. This should be used if the Veteran feels the local VA office isn't taking into account all the circumstances and information on the claim previously submitted.
The entire process can take upwards of 14 months currently, however the claim, if awarded, is retroactive to the date the initial paperwork was submitted to the VA. Consequently, it behooves one to get the initial forms in quickly and if there is any supporting information subsequently required, that can be done at a later date.
The above is all well and good if you intend to file and have all the paperwork in one area and ready to go – but what about the individual who wants to file but is missing a document or two, such as a DD214, or doctors’ information, or is just too busy with life’s little trials to sit down and complete all the forms. Well, we even have a solution for that!
The VA has a form, called the Intent to File form (ITF), located here:
http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-0966-ARE.pdf and the parent page is located here:http://www.va.gov/vaforms/form_detail.asp?FormNo=21-0966 The nice thing about this form (VA 21-0966) is that it allows a Veteran to place an anchor point in establishing their claim. Once this form is filed, the individual has up to one year to submit the above claim forms for claim evaluation, however, the “retroactive to” date now becomes the date the 21-0966 form was filed and not the actual claim forms.
In other words, a Veteran wants to file a claim, but for several reasons cannot do so at the moment. They instead file VA form 21-0966 in February. Several months pass and the Veteran gets his act together and files all his claim paperwork in October. The VA evaluated the claim and grants an award. The award becomes retroactive to February when the ITF was filed, not Oct when the final PW was received.
It's important to know that once the Intent to File (VA form 21-0966) is filed, the Veteran has up to one year in which to complete the remaining paperwork and get it submitted. Also – and this is important, should the Veteran choose to use the VFW as their Service Officer (as opposed to doing everything themselves), then the POA form above (VA form 21-22) must also be filed with the ITF form.
Should you have any questions, please contact us at our email listed on our home page and we will be glad to assist you.