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June 22, 2023

The 7 Most Common VA Forms Explained (The Ultimate Guide)

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want to learn how to implement these strategies to get the VA benefits you deserve, click here to speak with a VA claim expert for free.

As a veteran, you’ll likely come across one of the 7 most common VA forms, but you might not know how valuable they can be for you. It’s essential to understand what these VA forms mean and how to fill them out, which is why we explain it all below, helping remove any guesswork. 

Correctly filling out necessary VA forms will help ensure you receive the VA rating, compensation, and benefits you deserve. This can significantly improve the quality of life for you and your family. 

Keep reading to learn more about these VA forms, their importance, and how to submit them correctly today!

man filling out VA forms


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The 7 Most Common VA Forms

VA Form 21-526EZ, Application for VA Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits, is required when veterans submit a claim for VA disability compensation and benefits. 

Generally, Form 21-526EZ is one of the first and most used VA forms veterans use when filing a claim and is used for new claims, claims for an increased rating, or service connection claims. 

The form requires you to include supporting documentation, including medical evidence that proves your claim, so it’s crucial to have all your information together before submitting VA Form 21-526EZ. 

When submitting the form, you have two processing options: the fully developed claim program (FDC program) and the Standard Claim Process. The FDC program is quicker but requires you to agree that you have submitted all pertinent documentation and medical evidence and that no follow-up information is needed. 

However, the Standard Claim Process requires the VA to obtain information to support your claim, which makes the process longer. If you choose the FDC program, but the VA requires more information, they will switch you to the Standard Claim Process. 

Ways to submit VA Form 21-526EZ:

  • Submit your claim online 
  • In person at the closest VA Regional Office
  • With a legal representative (a Veterans Service Organization or VSO accredited agent or attorney)
  • By mail: 

Department of Veterans Affairs

Evidence Intake Center

PO Box 4444

Janesville, WI 53547-4444

2. VA Form 20-0995: Supplemental Claim Application

If denied a disability claim, you can appeal the decision by submitting VA Form 20-0995, Supplemental Claim Application

 VA Form 20-0995 is the form for filing for a supplemental claim, one of the appeal options that replaced the Legacy Appeals System in 2019. You use it when you want to submit New and Relevant Evidence with your appeal. 

New evidence refers to evidence not previously presented to the VA adjudicator with your initial claim. Relevant evidence simply refers to the evidence submitted that must prove your appeal or claim. 

The VA has a duty to assist you in obtaining records to help develop your case and prove your claim. You can submit VA Form 20-0995 online, in person at a VA regional office, with a legal representative (a Veterans Service Organization or VSO accredited agent or attorney), or by mail, depending on the type of benefit, as seen below. 


Department of Veterans Affairs

Claims Intake Center

PO Box 4444

Janesville, WI 53547-4444

Pension/Survivor Benefits

Department of Veterans Affairs

Claims Intake Center

PO Box 5365

Janesville, WI 53547-5365


3. VA Form 21-8940: Veterans’ Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability (TDIU)

VA Form 21-8940, Veteran’s Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability, is used by veterans who can’t work due to a service-connected disability and wish to apply for increased compensation.

The VA heavily relies on the form when determining appeals and claims for total disability based on individual employability (TDIU). TDIU refers to when a veteran’s combined disability rating is less than 100%, but they can still potentially get paid at the 100% rate if their service-connected disabilities cause an inability to secure or follow substantially gainful occupations. 

The 4-page form lets the VA know more about the veteran, like their disability and medical treatment, level of education, and employment history. This includes when they last worked full-time and their total earned income in the past 12 months.

In addition, VA Form 21-8940 asks when you became too disabled to work due to your service-connected disabilities. 

If you require more space to list your history, a box on the last page says “remarks,” where you can add additional information. You can also attach additional pages to VA Form 21-8940 to give the VA the best possible picture of your history. 

However, if you don’t submit the form with your TDIU claim, the VA will likely ask you to provide one; otherwise, you may receive a denied claim. 

You can mail the completed form to the following address:

Department of Veterans Affairs

Evidence Intake Center

PO Box 4444

Janesville, WI 53547-4444

4. VA Form 20-0996: Higher-Level Review Form 

VA Form 20-0996, Higher-Level Review (HLR), is necessary if you disagree with the VA’s decision and request a higher-level reviewer to review your claim decision. However, you can’t submit any new evidence, including medical records, and you must request a VA Higher-Level Review within one year from the date on your decision letter. 

The reviewer will only review the evidence you submitted in your original claim, and they will determine whether an error or difference of opinion changes the decision. 

In addition, unlike the Supplemental Claim Application, the VA doesn’t have a duty to assist you in providing evidence to support your claim or develop your case. Unless your HLR claim resulted in being returned to correct a “duty to assist” error in a prior decision

Remember that once you receive an HLR decision, you can’t go to the HLR again to appeal your case. 

However, you can schedule an over-the-phone informal conference, which you will select on VA Form 20-0996. The conference isn’t a time to go back and forth; instead, it’s a time to present your case. If you decide on a conference, it will cause a slight delay in your case. 

The reviewer will contact you on the phone number you provided on VA Form 20-0996 (so make sure it’s a valid number). After attempting to contact you two times, they will review and decide your case without an informal conference. 

You can quickly fill out VA Form 20-0996 online, at a VA regional office, with a legal representative (a Veterans Service Organization or VSO accredited agent or attorney), or by mail to:

Department of Veterans Affairs

Claims Intake Center

PO Box 4444

Janesville, WI 53547-4444 

PRO TIP: If they call to schedule your conference, and the date isn’t ideal, ask to reschedule. They may not always be able to handle the request, but it’s worth asking. 


5. VA Form 10182: Decision Review Request

Veterans looking to appeal their case to the Board of Veterans Appeals must fill out VA Form 10182. When submitting the form, you request a Veterans Law Judge to conduct a case review of your claim. 

The form requires you to list issues decided by the VA that you wish to appeal, including the decision date. In addition, you will need to include your basic information like date of birth, social security number, email address, phone number, and current mailing address. 

You must also select one of the three following ways for the board to review your case:

  1. Direct Review by a Veterans Law Judge: You aren’t submitting new evidence to the board and aren’t requesting a hearing. This method typically produces the fastest decision from the board. 
  2. Evidence Submission Reviewed by a Veterans Law Judge: You have additional evidence to support your appeal. 
  3. Hearing with a Veterans Law Judge: You request a board hearing and the opportunity to submit additional evidence to support your appeal. In addition, you will select from the following types of hearings:
  • Central Office Hearing (Appearing in person in Washington, D.C.)
  • Videoconference Hearing (From a VA regional office)
  • Virtual Telehearing (You will attend virtually from an internet-connected device)

Finally, you will sign and date VA Form 10182, authorizing the Board Appeals request. 

You may submit VA Form 10182 online, at a VA regional office, or by mail to:

Board of Veterans’ Appeals

PO Box 27063

Washington, DC 20038

6. VA Form 21-4138: Statement in Support of Claim 

Form 21-4138, Statement in Support of Claim, is used when you wish to submit a personal statement—typically a 3-5 paragraph written narrative that details the facts and circumstances of your individual VA disability condition. 

While a Statement in Support of Claim isn’t required, we highly recommend taking advantage of this opportunity to provide the VA with this key supporting evidence. This can help complete your Fully Developed Claim—speeding up the claims process and increasing the chances of winning your VA claim.

VA Form 21-4138 is also especially beneficial if you lack sufficient medical evidence. The form may help you establish a service connection for a condition or a claim requesting a higher disability rating. 

Here are a few tips when filling out VA Form 21-4138:

  • Use as much detail as possible, painting a vivid picture of your case 
  • Describe the circumstances around your accident, incident, or other related event causing your condition
  • Make your points clear, and don’t add unnecessary filler information that makes it hard for the reviewer to follow your case
  • While you can add extra pages, keeping it to a few paragraphs with solid information will better support your case 
  • Don’t lie. While it seems logical, you should always provide accurate information because there is a penalty of perjury for false statements on a VA disability claim 

Remember, the more relevant details you offer, the greater chance of showing an unquestionable link between your service and your disability. 

Finally, you can submit VA Form 21-4138 online, at a VA regional office, or by mail to:

Department of Veterans Affairs

Evidence Intake Center

PO Box 4444

Janesville, WI 53547-4444


7. VA Form 21-686C: Declaration Application Request to Add or Remove Dependents 

The final of the seven most common VA forms is VA Form 21-686C, Declaration Application Request to Add or Remove Dependents. You use the form when you want to submit a claim for additional benefits for a dependent, add a new dependent, or request to remove a dependent from your benefits. 

Examples of situations where you would add a dependent include, but are not limited to:

  • Marriage by Ceremony
  • Establishing a Common-Law Marriage
  • Proxy Marriage
  • Birth of a Child 
  • Stepchild
  • Adopted Child
  • Dependent Parent 

The following are examples of why you may wish to remove a dependent:

  • Divorce
  • Death of a Spouse or Child
  • You Have a Child That Gets Married
  • A Child is Between 18 and 23 Years Old and Isn’t in School
  • Removal of a Dependent Parent Due to Death

When filling out VA Form 21-686C, ensure you have pertinent information like the dependent’s social security number, birth date, and place of birth. If you remove a dependent due to death, you must list the date and place of death. 

In addition, if you add a student between 18 and 23, you must include the appropriate school name and address, along with their personal information. 

You can fill out Form 21-686C online, and the VA will review the claim once received and notify you of their decision. You can also submit the form at a VA regional office or by mail to:

Department of Veterans Affairs

Evidence Intake Center

PO Box 4444

Janesville, WI 53547-4444


Need Additional Assistance?

Filing claim forms can get confusing, but you must complete them correctly to ensure you receive what you deserve. Most veterans are underrated for their disabilities and, therefore, not getting their due compensation. At VA Claims Insider, we help you understand and take control of the claims process, so you can get the rating and compensation you’re owed by law. 

Our process takes the guesswork out of filing a VA disability claim and supports you every step of the way in building a fully-developed claim (FDC)—so you can increase your rating FAST! If you’ve filed your VA disability claim and have been denied or have received a low rating—or you’re unsure how to get started—reach out to us! Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call. Learn what you’ve been missing—so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation YOU DESERVE!

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