What are the Major Differences between DoD and VA Disability Benefits?

Here are some important differences between DoD disability retirement benefits and VA disability benefits. Understanding these differences may help you sort out  the benefits puzzle.

VA Disability Compensation and Disability Pension

Veteran’s Disability Compensation

Veteran’s Disability Compensation is administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs and is intended to compensate veterans for loss of quality of life and civilian employability. To qualify, an individual must be a veteran.

VA Disability - Step 8: Filing A Court Appeal

If the BVA denies your claim

If you are not satisfied with any part of the Board decision, you can appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (the "Veterans Court").  The Veterans Court only handles BVA appeals on behalf of veterans. The Court website also has useful information about the appeal process.

VA Disability - Step 6: When the initial decision finds no "nexus"

What is the "nexus" and why is it important? 

To get benefits, you must meet three tests. You need to show:

VA Disability - Step 5: Getting the Initial Decision on Your Claim

When VA can't find needed information

The law requires VA to make "reasonable efforts" to help you prove your claim.  The VA is supposed to make "as many efforts as necessary" to get files from federal agencies, including military service and military or VA medical records.  For records that are not kept by the federal government (including personal medical records), the VA is required to make at least one request and one follow-up.

VA Disability - Step 4: The C & P Exam

What is the C & P Exam?

The Ratings Veterans Services Representative [RSVR] is a primary decision maker on your claim. Once you have filed your claim, a folder or file is created. Data, or evidence, is added to your file for consideration by the RSVR. Likely some past evidence exists in the form of a Service Medical Record [SMR]. Or you have records of diagnosis and treatment from civilian providers.

VA Disability - Step 2: The VA Response

What happens next?

Now that you have started your claim online or submitted the Intent to File a Claim form (VA Form-21-0966). It's time to begin gathering the evidence you'll need to support your claim.  See next section on "evidence."

 Eventually, you will receive a letter from VA to notify you that they have received your application.  The letter explains what VA needs in order to help grant your claim.

VA Disability - Step 1: File your claim

When should I file my Claim?

File your claim as soon as possible after you decide that you might qualify for benefits. In 2015 the VA made changes to how you file a claim. You must use the right forms to start your VA Claim.  You will also need to send any supporting statements along with the right forms. This page will discuss the two ways to submit your claim.

Unemployment Compensation for Spouses who Quit Work Because of Military Spouse Transfers

What is Unemployment Compensation?

Each State runs an Unemployment Compensation (UC) program for people who have lost their jobs. Eligible unemployed workers get weekly checks and can qualify for other work-related benefits.

Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers [UCX Program]

What is the UCX Program?

By federal law, certain members of the military can get Unemployment Compensation based on their active duty service. This is sometimes called the “UCX Program.”   It provides weekly income to servicemembers as they look for work, including those who can find only part-time work.