I am an Afghanistan War veteran who has been out of the military for 10 years. Now that I have a better understanding of how this works and who it covers, I decided to apply for it. If you can establish that you have an ongoing service related disability, you may have a claim. Here is how I filed a VA claim:
1. Contact the Veteran Services Office (VSO) Near you. You can find them by going to your favorite search engine and typing “yourstate+vso+veteran”. Each state has a VSO dedicated to helping Veterans file, support, and track claims.
2. Get your DD214 (notarized). You can get this from “archives.gov/veterans/”. Or if you have one just make sure you get it notarized.
3. Get your military medical records. This is optional because the VA can get them. I thought this was a show stopper because I could not get mine. But don’t worry about it. It is better if you have them.
4. Fill out the VA Form 21-526EZ, Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits
5. Fill out the VA Form 21-686c, Declaration of Status of Dependents
6. Fill out the VA Form 21-0781, Statement of Claim for Service Connection PTSD. This is only applicable if you have PTSD.
The VSO used what I filled out to file my claim electronically.