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A Closer Look at the “Intent to File a Claim” Process

Posted by Gregory M. Rada | November 20, 2014 | Disability Compensation

In my last post, I briefly discussed VA’s new “intent to file a claim” process which replaces the current informal claim process on March 25, 2015. Now I take a closer look at the specifics of the new claims filing process and how it can determine the effective date of a claim.

An intent to file a claim differs from the informal claim process in two important respects. First, an intent to file a claim must be submitted in the VA’s designated format. Second, an intent to file a claim does not need to identify the particular medical condition on which the claim will ultimately be based. This means a veteran can submit an intent to file a claim and then research and decide which actual claims to bring. As long as the claim is completed within 1 year of the intent to file a claim, each medical condition contained in the final completed claim will be assigned an effective date equal to the date of submission of the intent to file a claim.

You can submit an intent to file a claim for benefits electronically, orally, or by completing VA Form 21-0966.

 

To submit an intent to file a claim electronically, you must start and save an application for benefits in the VA’s electronic claims system (currently eBenefits). The date the electronic application is first saved then serves as the effective date of the claim as long as fully completed application is submitted within 1 year. If not, the date the VA electronically receives the completed claim will serve as the date of claim.

To submit an intent to file a claim orally, a veteran can call a VA call center or talk in-person with a designated VA employee. The employee will record the intent to file a claim on VA Form 21-0966. It’s important to note that VA will only accept an oral intent to file a claim if the conversation is documented by the VA employee. Thus, it’s important to ask the VA to send you a copy of the VA Form 21-0966.

Finally, a claimant can submit an intent to file a claim by completing VA Form 21-0966. This is VA’s new proposed form designed specifically for the intent to file a claim process. The form has three main components: (1) a checkbox to indicate an intent to file a claim for compensation, pension, or survivors benefits; (2) a section for identification information; and (3) a signature and date block.

Overall, the important takeaway is to make sure you submit an intent to file a claim via one of VA’s approved methods, and then to submit your completed application within a year of that date. This will ensure an effective date equivalent to the date you filed your intent to file a claim.

Sources: VA Final Rule on Intent to File a Claim Process

Gregory Rada is a Veterans Benefits Attorney who practices Nationwide. He graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law, and has been practicing law for eight years. Gregory Rada believes in fighting for fellow veterans. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.