Try making a Google search for VA disability benefits, and you'll get pages of ads from companies trying to help you. Maybe all you want is to do the research yourself – but how do you cut through all of those advertisements to get to the important pages? To make things easier and more clear, we've come up with a list of the most helpful sites for doing your own research throughout the VA disability claims process.
First things first: If you haven't reviewed it already, the basic criteria for service connection is discussed here.
When beginning your research, the first place to start is the VA's website. There is a lot of helpful information broken down to simple facts here and is a great place to familiarize yourself with the basics.
The VA website: https://www.va.gov/disability/
This is the front page of VA disability services. You can navigate through all the VA resources from this page.
The 38CFR book C schedule for rating criteria:
This is a wonderful resource if you ever want to look up how your symptoms translate to rating percentages. When you click or scroll to a body system that you are interested in looking up the rating criteria, make sure that you choose the “schedule of ratings”. This will bring up a word document with all of the VA rating diagnoses for that body system. Below is a picture of where to click:
The national archives: https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/medical-records.html
This is where you can request your military medical records.
A medical literature database: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
This is where you can type search criteria and read more detail about medical conditions or connections. This is not specifically for VA disability but it can be helpful if you want to do your own research on how your medical conditions may be connected to another medical condition. This will mostly only give you abstract or summary information, but it can be a place to start for someone who really wants to do their own research before filing a claim.
Here you can check the status of your claim, print denial/award letters, get your VA disability summary breakdown, print out letters to submit for veteran benefits such as discounts on your tax bill, proof for disability services, mortgage proof of service, etc.
Accredited agents: https://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/index.asp
This is where you can search for VA accredited agents if you would like assistance with filing your VA disability claim.
Do you need support preparing documents for your VA disability claim?
The VA disability system and process is complex and confusing. Many have been able to roll up their sleeves and do it themselves, but for others, it's like climbing a mountain without a guide. The resources are out there for people who want to work on and submit a claim themselves and there are many ways to get assistance. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for this, and we recommend understanding what you can do on your own to save time and money and when it is right to include a professional. We're here if you need us for medical nexus letters. Not everyone will need one from a private company, but if you think you might, reach out to us for a chart review.