The VA Disability Claim Process - My Story
As I already talked about in my first post on the VA Disability Claim Process, I started this with a reference from a co-worker. This all started back in May of 2021, I email Sylvia (she was an Administrative Assistant for the VFW) and she started to help me, at least for a little while. There were long periods of no communication at all, but I’m fairly used to that from some parts of the Government. By the end of June, I had a VA Form 21-22 (Appointment of Veterans Service Organization as Claimant’s Representative). This form would allow the VA (in this case Sylvia) to act as my proxy when working with the VA. I sent her the signed copy of the form back the very next day (this was all done online).
The day I sent the signed form back, Sylvia sent me a reply asking me to send it to Christopher and she was going to be out of the office. This would be the last time I had any communication with Sylvia. As instructed I sent a copy of the aforementioned VA Form to Christopher (he was a Claims Consultant for the VFW). I didn’t hear anything from Christopher for a month. We are not in August and Christopher sent me an email with six attachments and several forms (VA Form 21-4142a and VA Form 21-4142). I quickly filled out the forms in hopes that I wouldn’t lose contact with Christopher as I did with Sylvia.
He told me that I needed to collect all the medical records that I could find both civilian and military. I did as he instructed and I sent them via DoD Safe as he requested. By early September I had everything gathered and uploaded as requested and that is where it ended. I sent emails asking for updates every few weeks and on Oct 6th, I received an automatic reply back stating that he no longer works there. But it did include an email address for a group mailbox (firstname.lastname@example.org). I sent an email to the group mailbox and I got a phone call back the very next morning.
I’m currently working with Keith from the VFW and he has been great and has my paperwork heading to the VA.
Keith, if you just happen to read this, thank you so much, I appreciate it very much.
Other VA Resources:
https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/homepage – This should help you start if you choose to do it yourself without outside help.
https://www.va.gov/disability/how-to-file-claim/ – How to file a VA disability claim
https://www.va.gov/records/get-military-service-records/ – Request copy of DD214
https://www.hqmc.marines.mil/Agencies/Office-of-Legislative-Affairs/Congressional-Correspondence-Section/Records-Request/ – Obtain SRB and Medical Records from HQMC
https://www.usa.gov/military-records – Older Military records
Talking with someone from a vet organization is probably your best bet to get going. They can help guide you through the whole process, so you aren’t flying blind. AMVets, American Legion, VFW, DAV, etc. all have VSOs (Veteran Service Officers) that are paid to do this as a job. They’ve lived it, so they are a great resource to use.