Filing a claim for compensation with the Department of Veterans Affairs is a very lengthy process. Once you receive their decision, it is easy to get lost in or even lose all the documents. These letters are important to keep and they serve as a veteran’s proof of VA disability. These letters are needed to receive some additional benefits to show the veteran’s active status in the VA system and for other agencies and companies.
This guide will break down the basics of VA award letters and their purpose. If you have lost your award letter, this will also go over how to easily obtain a new one. Understanding what the VA has determined and is offering is very important in continuing a claim through an appeal or being entitled to benefits you may not know. Much of this information is included in the VA award letter and will be covered below.
What is a VA Award Letter?
Through the claims process you receive many letters and documents from the VA. When it comes to their decision on your claim, they provide all the information in a letter called a VA award letter. A VA award Letter includes essential information in the decision made by the VA on your claim. After typically waiting several months and sometimes even years, it is hard to slow down to digest the letters than to skip to the rating decision. However, more benefits are available than just the decision to your claim so ensure to read each document carefully. The VA does make mistakes and finding these errors can be extremely beneficial.
A VA award letter will have information on your monthly entitlement and start dates for those compensations. Rating adjustments and information related to the veterans marital and dependency status is also listed and important to make sure this is accurate to receive the correct amount of benefits. Another important section is regarding additional benefits that you may be entitled to. Depending on certain programs or rating’s that you may have been awarded may entitle you to additional benefits. The VA also provides the decision and what evidence was used. This section of the letter is important to make sure the start dates are correct, as is the information related to the case. In the situation that a VA award letter includes a decision that is not favorable, there is a section that includes the steps to send a Notice of Disagreement, remember you have one year from the date of the letter to appeal the decision.
What To Do With Your Award Letter
Once you break down the specific sections of your award letter it is important to read the letter carefully. Ensure information like your personal information is correct and make sure all your disabilities are listed. Once you have gone through and understand what the VA has determined you can start to plot your next steps. If you disagree with the VA decision, you can appeal. Just because your claim was denied does not mean it is not winnable. Claims can get denied because of wrong forms or deadlines and sometimes the decision has no bearing on the substance that was submitted.
To read more about the appeals process click here. If you haven’t filed an appeal since the new VA appeals system implemented in February 2019, click here for a brief overview. If you agree with the decision and are seeking nothing further in this specific issue, it is still important to keep this document for proof of VA disability. Make a copy and secure the letter in a safe place.
Why Do You Need Your Award Letter?
As mentioned above, not only does the award letter include your decision but also information that can be used for proof of VA disability. This can be used when applying for disabled veteran status for specific applications or entitlements. Mortgage companies that offer specific loans for disabled veteran’s will need proof of VA disability to award reduced loans. Many states offer property tax exemptions to veterans with a certain rating percentage, even offering full exemption if 100%.
Always investigate your state and local websites about entitlements to veterans and disabled veterans. From discounted, to even free, hunting, finishing licenses and state park passes being offered to veterans at certain statuses. Providing your proof of VA disability is important to receiving these additional benefits. Even if you are not seeking further benefits at the time, keeping your award letter in your records is a smart move.
How Can You Get a Copy of Your VA Award Letter?
Everyone has been there where you thought for certain you had the document in a safe spot only for it to vanish. When needing proof of VA disability there is no struggle with receiving a copy of your awards letter. Whether obtaining a physical or digital copy, you have multiple options available when obtaining your proof of VA disability.
You can access your award letter from your eBenefits account or through the VA.gov website and logging into a My healtheVet, DS Logon or ID.me accounts. If you do not have an account, you can easily create one to obtain your proof of VA disability. You can also find other VA letters such as service history or information about your benefits while using the online portal. You may also obtain the award letter from your VA regional office through a phone call or visit.
Have Questions About the VA’s Decision?
The claims process is almost never complete and further action can always be found in your VA award letter. Whether appealing an increase or a decision to service connect, it is important to understand all options. While the VA does offer the award letter with ample information, typically there is still many questions that are left unanswered.
If you received a VA award letter and have questions, please do not hesitate to visit Hill and Ponton’s website here for a free case evaluation. Having the proper legal assistance is very important when staying on top of your VA claim. Our attorneys at Hill and Ponton have over 30 years experience with disability claims.
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