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I want to know more about veterans benefits.

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I want to know more about veterans benefits.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers many benefits and services for veterans. This toolkit focuses on some of the most common forms of VA benefits: Service Connected Disability, VA Pension, and more.

The checklist portion of this toolkit is intended to give you a starting point in gathering information about your claim.

If you would like to see if you qualify for free help on veterans benefits click here.

If you need other help, use the Legal Help Finder look for a lawyer, free legal aid program or self-help center in your area.

WARNING: The information and forms in this toolkit are not a substitute for the advice and help of a lawyer.  It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer about your particular situation

Frequently Asked Questions
What is veterans' service connected disability?

Service connected disability is a cash benefit for veterans with a disability that is related to their military service. The disability does not need to be so severe that it prevents the veteran from working.

The FAQ section of this toolkit will help you determine if you satisfy the definition of a "veteran"; if your disability is service connected; and how to apply for this benefit.

The Helpful Links section contains other resources to help you gather evidence for your claim and find more information on specific disabilities.


In the context of veterans' benefits, what is a service-connected disability?

A service-connected disability is an injury or illness that occurred while you were on active duty. In some circumstances, it may be an injury or illness that you already had that was aggravated while you were on active duty. The injury or illness must happen in the line of duty.

Click here for more information on service-connected disability. 


What is non-service connected disability pension?

Non-service connected disability pension is a needs-based program for veterans with wartime service who are permanently and totally disabled, or over age 65.  Non-service connected pension is also known as "VA pension" or "widower’s pension."

Click for more information about non-service connected disability pension.

What is VA Pension for veterans?

VA Pension is a cash benefit paid to wartime veterans who are over age 65, totally disabled, in a nursing home, or receiving social security benefits. The FAQ section will help you determine if you served in a statutory period of war, and if you are financially eligible for VA Pension.


If my veterans' benefits claim was denied, how do I gather records?
  • If your claim was previously denied, carefully review the VA denial letter. This letter may contain information on why your claim was denied.
  • Lack of evidence is one of the main reasons VA denies claims for benefits. Thus, you should gather relevant evidence that supports your claim for benefits. Such evidence (usually) includes, but is not limited to: 
    • Military records
      • Request using Form SF-180 – Check “Other” under Section II and request your “Official Military Personnel File” (OMPF).
      • For in-patient military medical records - Request your OMPF and check "Medical Records." You must include the name of the hospital, month (if known) and year of treatment.
    • Non-military medical records, such as VA medical records and private medical records (related to the injury and/or disease for which you seek compensation)
      • Contact VA or your medical provider to request them
    • Supporting witness statements
    • Your personal statement
  • When providing your supporting evidence, only include the pages with relevant information for your claim.


What is apportionment of veterans' benefits?

The Department of Veterans Affairs may pay a portion of a veteran’s service-connected disability compensation, or non-service-connected disability pension, directly to the veteran’s dependents. This practice is called "apportionment of veterans' benefits."

Click here for more information on apportionment of Veterans' Benefits to Dependents


The FDC Program | Section 1: VA Benefits, Who is Eligible, and Claim Types

The Fully Developed Claims Program (FDC) allows veterans and their families to receive the fastest VA decisions on their compensation, pension and DIC claims. Each section of this six-part video series highlights the key features of the FDC program and the eClaims process. Section One covers the types of VA benefits that veterans and family members may request using the FDC Program. For more information, see the other videos in this series and visit www.benefits.va.gov/fdc.

You can also see more videos in this series on the link here.