The VA announced this week a new streamlining of its "Intent to File" option. Essentially, this is a placeholder for veterans looking to file for compensation and pension benefits before they are ready with all of their necessary application forms, evidence and associated material.
Why is this important?
In the age of the VA Backlog, waiting months for a decision is not uncommon. The fastest way to process VA claims is through the Fully Developed Claim process. Under this program, veterans must submit ALL evidence and associated forms upfront or risk being removed into the regular claim population. While both will eventually see a decision, the FDC program promises much faster results.
The "Intent to File" is a good option for veterans who are not ready to file a FDC, but want to hold a claim date as far back as possible. The claim date is important because it becomes the date of your disability rating. For example, if you filed a claim today and the VA did not decide your case until July, you would receive retroactive pay back to the date of claim, or in this example, today.
The VA "Intent to File" is a claim date placeholder.
How Do I Submit my Intent to File?
ONLINE - Use your eBenefits account to let the VA know of your intentions. If you do not have an eBenefits account, we highly suggest them as you can receive real-time updates about your claim.
MAIL - Print VA Form 21-0966, fill our your name, demographic information and sign. This easy to use form can be mailed to your local regional office.
PHONE - Although wait times can be longer than 45 minutes when you call 1-800-827-1000, you can inform the VA call center of your intention and they will submit a claim.
What Happens Next?
After submitting and "Intent to File," you have one year to complete the claim process. This means filling out the appropriate application, gathering evidence and sending your claim in through eBenefits or the mail. We strongly suggest that you use the Fully Developed Claim process and submit all of your information at once.
As always, we are available to help you with a VA claim or a VA Intent to File. Please contact our offices if you need assistance and we can explain all application processes in further detail.