Did you know you may qualify for additional benefits if you’re a veteran with a service-connected disability or injury? It’s true! You may qualify to file a VA supplemental claim, which can help raise your disability rating and provide more monthly income. We created this guide to help you understand the reasons to make a claim and access the necessary forms.
What Is a VA Supplemental Claim and Who Can File One?
IMPORTANT: If you have a disability rating for a condition that’s getting worse, you can file to increase your current disability compensation.
To qualify for a VA supplemental claim, you must meet both of the following requirements:
- The VA already denied your original claim.
- You didn’t appeal your original claim’s denial at that time (i.e., it’s not currently contested).
And at least one of the following requirements:
- You have new and relevant evidence to support your existing claim.
- You want your existing claim reviewed because of a change in federal law, like the PACT Act.
IMPORTANT: The VA recommends submitting supplemental claims no more than 12 months after the date on your original claim’s decision letter.
Here are some examples of when it’s appropriate to file a supplemental claim with the VA:
- The VA denied your original claim for breathing problems less than 12 months ago. Since then, your doctor diagnosed you with pulmonary fibrosis.
- 2 years ago, the VA denied you disability compensation for high blood pressure because they said it wasn’t service-connected. Now, the VA counts it as a presumptive disability due to your Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam.
What Evidence Do You Need for VA Supplemental Claims?
Evidence is any information that supports your claim, including:
- Medical reports.
PRO TIP: Complete VA Form 21-4142 to ask the VA for help locating documents from your private insurer, VA medical centers, and other federal facilities.
- Expert opinions.
- Buddy statements.
PRO TIP: Download Statement in Support of Claim (VA Form 21-4138).
Let’s look at the evidence requirements for your type of claim.
Additional Information for an Existing Claim
In order to make the case for supplemental benefits to an existing claim, you need two kinds of support:
- New evidence that wasn’t in your original claim.
- Relevant evidence that either proves or disproves an item listed in your denied claim.
IMPORTANT: You can also request a Board Appeal, but it takes a lot longer.
Evidence For a New Claim Because Laws Changed
To make the case for a new claim prompted by a change in law, you must submit or identify documents that establish a diagnosis and outline the severity of your condition.
The PACT Act added more “presumptive conditions” for vets exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic exposures, like radiation. If you file because a law changed, have qualifying military service, and the VA now lists your condition as a presumptive disability, then you don’t need to prove your service directly caused it.
How Do You File VA Supplemental Claims?
You have 4 ways to file your claim. Choose the option below that best fits your needs:
1. Submit a VA Supplemental Claim Online
IMPORTANT: Filing online is the fastest way to make your claim.
- Complete the digital version of the Decision Review Request: Supplemental Claim (VA Form 20-0995).
- Submit medical records and witness or buddy statements that support your claim.
2. Work with a VA-Accredited Organization or Attorney to File Your Claim
IMPORTANT: The VA certifies certain organizations and individuals to help vets request a decision review free of charge. They may bill for other expenses, however, after the VA makes a decision about your initial claim.
- Click here to find a VA-accredited attorney or here to locate a VSO (Veterans Service Organization).
- Download and complete the appropriate form to authorize them to act on your behalf:
- Ask about any fees you could be charged before you start working with a VSO or VA-accredited lawyer.
PRO TIP: Use eBenefits to either notify the VA that you’re working with a representative or change your representation status.
3. How to Make A VA Supplemental Claim in Person
- Complete the Decision Review Request: Supplemental Claim (VA Form 20-0995).
- Take the completed form to the VA regional office.
4. How to Make A VA Supplemental Claim by Mail
- Download and fill out a Decision Review Request: Supplemental Claim (VA Form 20-0995).
- Mail the forms and your supporting documentation to:
Department of Veterans Affairs Claims Intake Center PO Box 4444 Janesville, WI 53547-4444
How Does the VA Supplemental Claims Review Process Work?
Every case is different, but in general, once you complete your decision review claim, the process goes like this:
- Be patient. The VA will notify you when it has a decision, or if it needs more information.
PRO TIP: Learn how to check your VA supplemental claims status online.
- Keep any appointments. Sometimes, the VA wants more medical information, such as exams. When you get an appointment notice, put it on your calendar immediately or notify the VA that you can’t make it.
IMPORTANT: Missing appointments can jeopardize your claim.
- Make an appeal. If you’re not happy with the decision, then you can ask for a Higher-Level Review or a Board Appeal. The deadline for filing appeals varies, but should appear somewhere in your decision letter.
IMPORTANT: Appeals can be complex, so you are more likely to succeed with an attorney’s help.
Can I Get Free Expert Claim Help?
Yes! A VA-accredited lawyer can help you request a decision review free of charge. They may bill you for other expenses, however, once the VA renders a decision about your initial claim. We can connect you with a nearby VA supplemental benefits expert by phone for free claim help.
IMPORTANT: If the VA doesn’t award you supplemental benefits, then you owe $0 for expert assistance. And if you’re successful, then you only pay one small fee after your benefits begin.
Want to talk to a local claims expert for free, in private? Click the button below now to start your free online benefits quiz and see if you may qualify:
Margot Lester is the CEO of The Word Factory, a B2B & B2C content marketing agency that provides services for Fortune 100 brands, healthtech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coach and organizational communications trainer, helping individuals and teams write more effectively. Twitter/X: @word_factory LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/margotlester.