If you are a veteran who has applied for disability benefits, your regional office may already have sent you a VA Summary of Benefits Letter, also known simply as a VA Award Letter. This document contains very important information, such as your disability rating, your monthly benefit payment amount, and pertinent dates related to your claim. It’s important to hold onto this letter in case you want to appeal your rating or take any other action related to your claim.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to lay your hand on a piece of paper when you need it. Not everyone is meticulous about filing. You might have piles of documents that would take hours to go through. It’s also possible that your letter never arrived since correspondence often gets lost in the mail.
The good news is that if you need to reference your VA Award Letter, you don’t have to drive yourself crazy looking for it. The Veterans Administration keeps all letters on file in its database. You can view and download your letter in seconds, by following these easy steps:
- On your computer, go to https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/homepage
- You’ll see a blue “Log In” button in the upper right corner of the page. Click the button.
- This will take you to a page where you’ll have three options for a secure log in: DS, ID.me, or LOGIN.GOV. Click on the method of choice, and you’ll get a popup window asking you to accept the terms of service. Click ACCEPT.
- Once you are logged in, you’ll arrive at your home dashboard. Go to the navigation bar at the top of the page and find the tab that reads “Manage.” You should get a drop-down menu, where you’ll find a line for “Documents and Records.”
- From there, click the link for “VA Letters” and you’ll see “Benefit Summary – Veteran Benefits” as an option. A click will take you to the Benefit Summary Letter page, where you can select the information you want shown on your letter. (This allows you to customize the letter based on where you’re sending a copy, so you can keep some information, such as your monthly benefit amount, private.)
- Once you’ve selected all the checkboxes, you can click the blue button at the bottom of the page that reads “Generate Benefit Summary Letter.”
- Your computer’s PDF viewer will open and see a full award letter. Check to make sure the document is complete, then save it one of two ways. You can either save by clicking an icon that looks like an old floppy computer disk or print the document. The print function also allows you to save by selecting “Print to PDF.” Either save option allows you to store the document on your computer, so it’s there when you need it, and you can email it whenever necessary.
If computers are an obstacle for you, you can also write to your regional VA office to ask them to send you another copy of your letter. However, this will take considerably longer and may delay you from taking necessary action on your claim. Deadlines for appealing benefit decisions come quickly, so be sure you give yourself enough time to consult a knowledgeable veterans disability attorney. Remember, under the newer AMA rules you have one year from the date of a decision to file an appeal, unless it is a final Board denial in which case you have 120 days to file an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.