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 and 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?
Once the VA has reviewed your claim and the evidence you provided, they will reach a decision. The final verdict will come to you in the form of an official award letter, sent by mail to the address you indicated on your disability claim.
The following details will be included:
- Your disability rating and corresponding pay you will receive each month.
- Considerations that led to the decision of said rating.
- The steps you can take upon receiving the final verdict.
If you don’t find the decision favorable, you can initiate a decision review process within one year from the date indicated in the award letter. If you are considering filing for an appeal, our knowledgeable team at Hill & Ponton, P.A. would be happy to assist you with this process.
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.
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 in a variety of different ways:
- 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 I Download My VA Disability Letter?
You may contact the VA directly at (800) 827-1000, voice prompt “Letters” and have a Summary of Benefits Letter faxed or mailed to you.
Alternatively, you may download and print this letter directly from the websites below.
eBenefits is a resource offered through the VA, where Veterans can access and manage their health and benefit records. From here, you can print many different VA letters to verify eligibility for a variety of benefits.
To find the Summary of Benefits Letter, use the following steps:
- Login to your VA.gov account
- Under “Records” click “Download Your Benefit Letters”
- Click “Get Your VA Benefit Letters”
- Confirm your mailing address and click “View Letters”
- Select and download your VA disability letters (there are nine to choose from)
VA.gov is another service where veterans can access and manage their prescriptions, appointments and health records, including the Summary of Benefits Letter.
What VA Benefit Letters Can I Download?
There are nine VA disability letters available for download online, both on VA.gov and eBenefits.
Proof of Commissary Privileges Letter
If you have a 100% service-connected disability rating, you can receive a Retired Military ID card, which gives you access to local base facilities, including the commissary and post exchange.
Proof of Service Card
This card shows you served and were discharged honorably. It can be used to receive discounts at certain stores.
Proof of Creditable Prescription Drug Coverage
Proof that you qualify for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.
Proof of Minimum Essential Healthcare Coverage
Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) means that your healthcare plan meets the health insurance requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
To prove you are enrolled in VA healthcare, you must have an IRS Form 1095-B to show your coverage.
Military Service Verification
This letter shows branch of service, start date of active duty, and the date you were discharged.
Federal Civil Service Hiring Preference
This letter shows you are disabled and qualify for preference for civil service jobs.
VA Benefits Award Summary
This letter shows your service history and some benefits information. It can be utilized for a variety of different things, including applying for housing assistance, civil service jobs, and state or local property and car tax relief.
VA Benefits Verification
This is the main letter you receive once your claim has been processed and a final verdict has been made. It contains all your benefits, including gross amount and net amount, your effective date and your disability rating.
VA Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
This shows if you qualify for a VA home loan based on your service history and duty status.
Have Questions About the Claims Process or Appealing a Decision?
The attorneys at Hill & Ponton are here to support you in your claim. If you are intending to appeal a denied claim, you can contact us for an evaluation.
We also offer a free ebook The Road to VA Compensation Benefits, to help break down the claims process from start to finish. Click the link below to learn more.
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