The VA will send you an award letter when it makes a decision on your disability claim. However, even if you didn't receive it (or if you lost it), you're not completely out of luck.
But first, what is a VA Award Letter?
A VA Award letter, also known as a VA Disability Award Letter, is a cover letter that is attached to a VA rating decision. It describes what occurred in the attached rating decision and includes a list of appellate rights and choices.
What You'll Find in Your VA Disability Verification Letter
VA claims progress updates are sent to Veterans via award letters. Letters from the Department of Veterans Affairs should include these details:
- The amount of money you're entitled to as a benefit is expressed as a monthly compensation amount.
- The date on which each award amount on your letter takes effect.
- Any revisions or updates from a prior disability claim are included in this document.
- Your disability rating shows the proportion of severity.
While receiving disability benefits from the VA, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with your VA Benefits Summary Letter or VA disability award letter - especially in cases where you disagree with the VA's final decision. Depending on your VA award letter, you may learn that your disability rating significantly understates the severity of your disease or that you are eligible for additional benefits.
Finding Your VA Award Letter: A Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1 - Access eBenefits
eBenefits is an online portal that enables active-duty service members, Veterans, and military families to manage their VA-related benefits. To access eBenefits, go here.
Step 2 - Create an eBenefits account
A DoD Self-Service login is required to register for eBenefits. You must be enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System to get access credentials. A list of frequently asked questions about the VA's Disability Award Letter may be found at the VA eBenefits help page.
The VA may require you to verify your personal information before you can download a letter from them. After that, you have the option of saving or printing the document for your own records.
Call 800-698-2411 (1-800-MyVA411) if you need assistance browsing the eBenefits online interface or if you are unable to obtain your award letter. We recommend calling your local VA branch, which will be able to assist you through the application process.
If you're unable to access your account information online, ask your local VA office if they can mail you a copy of your VA Award letter.
Is your VA award letter still a bit of a mystery? Use these commonly asked questions as a starting point.
1. What Happens If I Don't Receive a VA Award Letter?
It is possible to appeal the VA's decision to deny your claim for service connection or a higher disability rating if you feel that you are entitled to further benefits.
If you have any questions or concerns about your VA award, you should be able to get in touch with your representative, such as your lawyer or veterans service officer. Consult with a legal professional to make sure you file the proper paperwork.
2. When Will You Receive your Letter from the Veterans Administration?
Once a Veteran's claim for service-connected disability compensation or an increased rating (to include TDIU) has been assessed, the VA sends out award letters.
3. What If I Lose My VA Disability Award Letter?
Veterans who've misplaced or need extra copies of their VA award letters may get them from the VA online, where they can read, store, and download them.
Visit the VA.gov website to find a copy of your letter. Create a new account or sign in with an existing one to get started now.
4. What Should I do if I get an AMA Notice of Action Letter Instead?
When the VA makes a decision about a Veteran's disability benefits, it sends them an AMA Notice of Action Letter. To be clear, this is not a rating decision, but rather an explanation of the options available to a Veteran now that the VA has reached a decision about their benefits. When the VA makes a rating determination, a "Notice of Action" letter is delivered to the Veteran.
The Veteran's name, address, choice of representative (if any), and Social Security number or VA-File number will appear at the top of the first page. After that, the Veteran's benefit information will be displayed, including the conditions for which he or she is service-connected as well as the date on which each of those conditions took effect.
If the Veteran is entitled to any extra benefits or benefits over and above what is stipulated in the VA code sheet, those details will be included as well. For example, a Veteran with a disability assessed at or above 30% who has a dependent child will get extra pay for that dependent child.
Among other things, the Notice of Action letter explains how a Veteran's compensation might be affected by re-enlistment or incarceration, among other things.
5. If You Don't Agree with the VA's Decision, What Can You Do?
For those who disagree with or are disappointed with VA's decision, the Appeals Modernization Act (AMA) offers them options for additional review.
- File a Supplemental Claim;
- Seek a Higher-Level Review; or
- Appeal to the Board of Veterans' Appeals.
Among other things, it explains how the Veteran should proceed with their selected appeal route, what forms they need to submit, where they may locate a qualified person to assist them, and other things. The important point to remember when you receive notice of VA’s decision on your claim is that you have one year to take action and file one of the three forms of appeal listed above. If you receive a Board of Veterans Appeals denial, you have 120 days to file an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).
In older, legacy cases, a veteran who receives an initial denial has one year to file a Notice of Disagreement. If he receives a Statement of the Case, he has 60 days to file a Substantive Appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeal. The Substantive Appeal is also referred to as a Form 9.
Veterans Disability Info's lawyers have been assisting veterans nationwide in their pursuit of disability benefits for many years. You may contact us online or at 888.878.9350 to see how we might be able to help you.