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Claims Process

Step 1: File a Claim

A claim can be filed at your local VA office, known as a Regional Office (RO), at a VA Medical facility, or online at the VA’s website by clicking HERE.

To file a claim for compensation or pension, a veteran must apply online or submit VA Form 21-526EZ to your servicing RO.

The surviving dependent of a veteran can file a claim for dependency and indemnity compensation, death pension, and accrued benefits by filing VA Form 21-534EZ with the RO.

Step 2: Claim Decided

Your RO will send you the decision on the claim. If you are not satisfied with the decision, you have ONE YEAR from the date the decision is mailed to file a Request for Higher-Level Review (HLR), Supplemental Claim, or appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals using VA Form 10182.

Step 3: File a Review Option

For more information on HLRs:

For more information on Supplemental Claims:

For more information on Board appeals:

Step 4: New Agency Decisions

After a decision on an HLR, you have a year to file a Supplemental Claim or appeal to the Board to preserve your original effective date.  You cannot file an HLR after an HLR or after a Board decision.

After a decision on a Supplemental Claim, you have a year to file an HLR, another Supplemental Claim, or an appeal to the Board to preserve your original effective date.  You can file a Supplemental Claim even if the year has expired, you just will not receive the original effective date if you prevail. 

Step 5: Appeals to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals

When you file your VA Form 10182 to the Board, you must pick a lane: direct review (the Board will not consider any new evidence); evidence only; or hearing plus evidence.  

Step 6: Decision by Board of Veterans’ Appeals

The BVA will receive your appeal and review the case. The BVA will mail you the decision: either your claim is granted, denied, or remanded.  If you appeal is denied and you do not want to file a Supplemental Claim at the Regional Office, you can file a motion for reconsideration before the Board or appeal the decision to the U. S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).

Step 7: Appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

If the BVA denies a claim, an appeal can be filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, which has exclusive jurisdiction to review adverse decisions from the BVA. This special federal court of appeals will review the record to determine if your claims have been properly denied. A court of appeals is not a trial court. There are no witnesses or new evidence allowed for consideration. VA will be represented by trained attorneys who will oppose your appeal and seek to have the Court confirm the decision of the BVA, effectively ending your appeal. The Court issues primarily single-judge decisions that will either affirm the Board’s decision, reverse that decision, or vacate (legally void) the decision and remand (or send back) to the Board for additional development and/or adjudication. Reversals are rare, so a remand is the best outcome you could expect.

Additional information may be obtained from

Decisions against your claim may be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Step 8: Appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has exclusive but limited jurisdiction over decisions by the Veterans Court. This court will not review findings of fact, but is limited to a review of how the Veterans Court interpreted the applicable statutes and regulations. Most cases appealed to this court are dismissed, because they do not meet this requirement and, therefore, the court will lack jurisdiction to hear the case.