After You File Your Claim...
Within a few weeks of filing your Claim (submitting the “Statement In Support of Claim Form 21- 4138) you should have received a letter from a Regional VA Office (Form 20-8992) This letter is a standard Form Letter telling you they have received your application for benefits and you do not need to do anything further. They will contact you when they need more information. You will find a example of this Form Letter in Chapter 23 “Example Letters” marked First Letter From VA.
The letter is conformation of your claim having been officially filed. If you did not have a “C” Number (Claim Number) before you filed, this letter will have your new “C” Number located in the upper right hand corner under the words “In Reply Refer To:”. There is no need for you to do anything except keep this letter. Believe it or not the VA has been known to lose a Veterans paper work! Therefore, keep everything you receive from the VA. You might need this letter at a later date to prove you did file a Claim.
The next correspondence you should receive from the VA Regional Office will be a letter requesting you to fill out Form 21-526. You will find a copy of this letter in Chapter 23 “Example Letters” marked Second Letter from VA. You will also find a completed Form 21-256 in Chapter 21 “Completed Forms”.
Complete Form 21-256 and return it to the VA Regional Office which sent it to you. SPECIAL NOTE: Whenever you mail any paper work to the VA Regional Office, be certain to mail it CERTIFIED RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED!!!. Always make a copy of everything you send to the VA. If you fail to make copies for yourself, you are making a big mistake. The VA is famous for losing Veterans paper work. They are also famous for sending a Veteran a letter with a Form to fill out and then a few weeks later sending the same Veteran another identical letter with the same Form requesting it be filled out again. It Happens!!!
It is very important that you make copies of what you send to the VA. It is just as important to mail your information Certified Return Receipt Requested. If the VA loses your paper work you’ve got copies to send them. If they send you identical Forms to fill out, make a copy of your copy and send it to them......Certified Return Receipt Requested. If they say we didn’t receive it, you’ve got a receipt that says they did.
If you receive a request to complete a Form which you have already completed, make a copy of your copy and make a copy of the Certified Return Receipt. Send this to the VA with a letter stating yo have already completed the information. Point out to them you have enclosed copies of the first Form you completed as well as a copy of the Certified Return Receipt from the US Postal Service which confirms the date they received the original completed information. It’s OK to Kiss and Slap. (Kiss their ass by doing what they ask and them Slap em’ by showing them you have already done what they’ve asked, before.) The next correspondence you should receive from the VA Regional Office will be a letter which asks for more evidence to process your Claim. An example of this letter can be found in Chapter 23 “Example Letters” marked Third Letter from VA. The third letter requests a “Stressor Letter” from you. This is a detailed description of a traumatic event which attributes to your PTSD condition. You will find an example of a Stressor Letter in Chapter 24 “Example Stressor Letters”. The VA will also want a letter from a Psychiatrist and/or Psychologist to support your claim of PTSD. You will find examples of these types of letters in Chapter 23 “Example Letters”.
This third letter from the VA also requests you submit any supporting evidence such as medical record from private doctors who may have treated you for PTSD. Also, letters from family or friends which explain things about your lifestyle are good evidence items supporting your claim. You will find examples of these types of letters in Chapter 23 “Example Letters”.
In the previous chapters we have explained to you the information you need, how, when and where to gather it from. Most likely, at the time you receive the above described “Third Letter” from the VA you have not gathered all of the information needed to process your claim for a 100% Rating. This is not to say you can not submit the information you have thus far. However, if you have not put together enough evidence to support a Rating Decision for 100%, obviously you will not receive a 100% Rating. Therefore, it is better to wait and send all of the information at one time.
If you wish you can submit what ever evidence you have at the time you receive the Third Letter. Sometimes this is helpful. You may receive a less than 100% Rating, but it can get some monthly income flowing, which is better than no money al all.
A Veteran has one year to submit their evidence from the date the Claim was first filed. What that means is this. You have one year from the date you initially file your Claim to submit any evidence. In other words you can file the claim and wait one year before going ahead with the process.
If a Veteran submits partial evidence and the VA Rates him/her, the Veteran has within one year from the date of the Rating Decision to submit new evidence if he/she disagrees with the Rating Board Decision. In other words, you file your Claim and submit evidence. The Rating Board decides to award you a 30% Disability Rating...... you wanted a 100% Disability Rating. They start paying you at the 30% Rate. You have one year from the date of the Rating Decision to file new evidence to start the processing rolling again for them to reconsider your Claim for the 100% Disability Rating. Once you file new evidence (within the one year period) the process has no time limit. Until the Rating Board reaches a decision, the process continues.