Filing a disability claim with the Department of Veteran Administration, or VA, can be a long process, which is why you want to make sure that you get everything right on your initial claim. Any issues with your initial claim could delay your benefits as you work through getting the right paperwork in. Here is what you need to gather together when preparing an FDC claim.
Know What To Claim
If you want your claim to go through the VA's office as quickly as possible, you should submit a Fully Developed Claim or FDC. This is a program that the VA offers that allows you to get a faster decision on your claim. It requires you to submit all evidence related to your claim at once and it requires you certify that there is no additional evidence related to your claim. This process allows the VA to make a decision faster than through their other disability programs.
Gather Your Medical Evidence
The most important part of your claim is your medical evidence. You will want to make sure that your medical evidence is in chronological order and is as detailed as possible.
Your medical evidence should include a list of every doctor and hospital visit related to your disability, whether it happened at a military or a civilian facility. For each visit, you will want to include the formal records that show the treatment you received. If possible, see if you can obtain your doctor's notes from each visit that they took to submit with the official documentation as well.
Your medical evidence should include every test or lab that was taken, as well as the lab or test results.
It should include detailed documentation of every intervention that has been tried, how long it has been tried for, and the results of that intervention on your disability.
Additionally, if you have taken your own medical records on a day-to-day basis, you should submit those as well. For example, if you kept a daily log of how you felt, the medications that you took, or the interventions and exercises you tried at home to assist your condition, you should submit that information as well.
The more details you can provide and the more evidence you have to support your disability claim, the higher chance you have of it being accepted.
Gather Your Separation Documents
When you file with the VA, you need to prove that you are actually a former military member and that you deserve their assistance.
In order to prove that you qualify for VA benefits, you will need to attach any copies that you have of your separation from the military as well as your discharge documents. If you don't have these documents on hand, you will need to put in a request for them.
Gather Your Dependency Records
The VA is also going to need to see proof of any dependents that you have. They need this information so they can make sure they are providing you, and your dependents, with adequate support for your disability.
You can't just list your dependents; you need to prove you have them. For your spouse, that means you will need to provide a copy of your marriage certificate. If you have children, that means you will need to provide a copy of their birth certificate or adoption records. Make sure that your child's birth certificate or adoption records lists you as a parent.
As it can take the VA a significant amount of time to process disability claims, you may want to get assistance from a lawyer who specializes in VA disability claims to assist you with your application, especially if you use the FDC process since you are supposed to submit all your evidence upfront. That way, you can ensure your application is error free and is accepted.