VA Service Connected CompensationTo initially apply for an service-connected disability the claimant will need: form 21-526, proof of military service, original or good copies of dependency documents, social security numbers, service medical records and/or private medical records that provide a diagnosis of, or statements that the disability exists or did exist. In the absence of service medical records some alternate documents might be VA military records, statements from service medical personnel, "Buddy" letters or affidavits, letters written during service, photographs taken during service or insurance examinations.
All claims must be "well-grounded" before the VA is required to assist in the development of the claim. A well-grounded claim is a plausible claim, one which is meritorious on its own or capable of substantiation. Such a claim need not be conclusive, but only possible. It is the claimant's responsibility to present a well-grounded claim, it is the representatives responsibility to guide the claimant in preparing such a claim.
When, after careful consideration of all procurable and assembled data, a reasonable doubt arises regarding service origin, the degree of disability, or any other point, such doubt will be resolved in favor of the claimant. It is not a means of reconciling actual conflict or a contradiction in the evidence; remember the claimant is required to submit evidence sufficient to justify a belief in a fair and impartial mind that the claim is well grounded. The reasonable doubt doctrine is also applicable even in the absence of official records, particularly if the basic incident allegedly arose under combat, or similarly strenuous conditions, and is consistent with the probable results of such known hardships.
Together with an accredited Veteran Service Officer, you should strive to present the best possible claim in order to receive the benefits allowed under the current law.