Skip to content

December 23, 2023

How to File a VA Claim Online (17-Step Tutorial)

Last updated on February 19, 2024

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.

In this blog post, Brian Reese the VA Claims Insider will teach you how to file a VA claim online in 17 steps.

This tutorial also includes helpful explanations and screenshots so you can follow along at each step in the process.

Before you begin, I recommend you have your supporting evidence (medical records, DBQs, Nexus Letters, personal statements, buddy letters, etc) already saved in a folder on your laptop or desktop so you can quickly reference it and attach it with your claim.

Step #1. Sign-in at VA.gov

There are multiple ways to sign-in including Login.gov, ID.me, DS logon, or MyHealtheVet.

Step #1. Sign-in at VA.gov

Step #2. Click “File for Disability Compensation”

On the VA.gov homepage, click the link that says “File for disability compensation.” You can also click the “My VA” link at the top right-hand side of the page and find any open claims you might have.

Step #2. Click "File for Disability Compensation"

Step #3. Begin the VA Form 21-526EZ Online for VA Disability Compensation

Click the radio buttons and answer the questions. If you’re filing an increase claim or adding a new primary or secondary condition, you’ll file the standard VA Form 21-526EZ online. If you’re disagreeing with a previous VA decision or denial, you’ll need to file a Supplemental Claim. Click “File a disability claim online.”

Step #3. Begin the VA Form 21-526EZ Online for VA Disability Compensation

Step #4. Continue a Current VA Disability Claim or Start a New Application

If you’ve already started a claim, but haven’t submitted it yet, you’ll click “Continue your application.” If you don’t already have an intent to file or claim you’re still working on, click “Start a new application.”

Step #4. Continue a Current VA Disability Claim or Start a New Application

Step #5. Open a New Intent to File or Continue Your Current One

If you already have an Intent to File, the system will notify you of that. If you don’t, by starting a new VA disability claim online, an Intent to File will open automatically. You’ll have one year to prepare and file your claim from the date of your Intent to File.

Step #5. Open a New Intent to File or Continue Your Current One

Step #6. Confirm Your Basic Information and Answer Important VA Questions

The next few screens you’ll need to confirm your information. The first screen is to confirm or edit your contact information. The second screen is to notify the VA if you’re homeless or at risk of becoming homeless (if yes, your claim will be expedited). The third screen is to notify the VA if you’re terminally ill (if yes, you’re claim will be expedited). The fourth screen is to verify your service history and periods of active-duty service from your DD 214. Click “Continue.”

Step #6. Confirm Your Basic Information and Answer Important VA Questions

Step #7. Add a New Disability and/or Increase a Current Disability Rating

This screen is to let the VA know what type of claim you’re filing for: (1) A new condition that’s connected to your military service, (2) One or more of your rated service-connected conditions has gotten worse (increase claim). You can click one of both boxes. Click “Continue.”

Step #7. Add a New Disability and/or Increase a Current Disability Rating

Step #8. Check All the Disabilities That Have Gotten Worse

Click the current service connected disabilities that have gotten worse—the conditions you’re filing for an increased disability rating.

Step #8. Check All the Disabilities That Have Gotten Worse

Step #9. Add New VA Disability Conditions (You Can Add Multiple Conditions)

Add any new conditions you’d like to file for. It has a “suggest” feature once you start typing the name of the new condition. For example, if you’re filing a new claim for Headaches, simply type that text in the box and then click “Save” and “Continue.” You can add multiple new conditions on this screen.

Step #9. Add New VA Disability Conditions (You Can Add Multiple Conditions)

Step #10. Select the Type of VA Service Connection and Add a Brief Narrative in the Text Box

In this section, for each new condition you’ve added, you’ll need to select the appropriate type of service connection. The first radio button is for direct service connection. The second radio button is for secondary service connection. The third radio button is for aggravation of a pre-service disability. The fourth radio button is for a rare form of service connection due to an injury or event that happened when you were receiving VA care. You have 400 characters to tell the VA Rater more about your condition and why you think it should be service connected. See the attached image for an example of how to complete the free form text box. Once you’ve completed this for all conditions, click “Continue.”

Step #10. Select the Type of VA Service Connection and Add a Brief Narrative in the Text Box

Step #11. Answer If You Have Ever Been a Prisoner of War (POW)

You’ll answer if you’ve ever been a POW. Click “Yes” or “No” and then click “Continue.”

Step #11. Answer If You Have Ever Been a Prisoner of War (POW)

Step #12. Add Any Special Circumstances Such As Modifications Needed for Daily Living, Housebound Status, or Individual Unemployability

You’ll answer if there’s any special circumstances that apply to your situation. For example, you may also be eligible for these additional disability benefits: (1) Money to modify your home or vehicle to make it more accessible, (2) Home-based care if you need help with everyday activities or are housebound because of a service-connected condition or disability, and/or (3) Individual Unemployability benefits (this includes increased disability payments) if a service-connected condition or disability prevents you from keeping a job. Click “Yes” or “No” and then click “Continue.”

Step #12. Add Any Special Circumstances Such As Modifications Needed for Daily Living, Housebound Status, or Individual Unemployability

Step #13. Verify or Edit Your Summary of Conditions for VA Disability Benefits

Verify the conditions you’ve claimed in this VA disability application. If anything is not correct, you can edit and make changes. If everything looks correct, click “Continue.”

Step #13. Verify or Edit Your Summary of Conditions for VA Disability Benefits

Step #14. Upload Supporting Evidence With Your Online VA Claim Application

This section is mission critical. You’ll have the opportunity to upload supporting evidence as a part of your VA claim. You can upload VA medical records if you were treated at a VA medical center or clinic, or by a doctor through the TRICARE health care program. You can upload private medical records if you were treated by a private doctor, including a Veteran’s Choice doctor. A Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) and/or a Nexus Letter are examples of private medical records. You can also upload lay statements or other evidence. A lay statement is a written statement from family, friends, or coworkers to help support your claim. Lay statements are also called “buddy statements.” In most cases, you’ll only need your medical records to support your disability claim. But some claims—such as those for PTSD or military sexual trauma—could benefit from a lay or buddy statement. Within this section, there are multiple screens and opportunities to upload supporting evidence for your VA claim. Click “Continue.”

Step #14. Upload Supporting Evidence With Your Online VA Claim Application

Step #15. Notification of a Possible VA Compensation and Pension Exam (C&P Exam)

This is a notification that you might be contacted by a third-party provider to schedule your VA C&P Exam. You’ll either have an in-person C&P exam (similar to a routine doctors visit), Telehealth C&P exam (video exam), or an ACE Exam (records only review). Scroll down and click “Continue.”

Step #15. Notification of a Possible VA Compensation and Pension Exam (C&P Exam)

Step #16. Verify or Change Direct Deposit Information and Answer Whether You’re a VA Employee

You’ll have the option to add or change your direct deposit bank account information to receive your monthly VA disability compensation. You’ll also need to answer if you’re a VA employee. If you have no changes here, simply click “Continue.”

Step #16. Verify or Change Direct Deposit Information and Answer Whether You're a VA Employee

Step #17. Review Your Application and Submit VA Disability Claim Online

This is the final screen before you submit your disability claim to the VA! I highly recommend you review your Veteran Details, Conditions, Supporting Evidence, and any Additional Information to ensure everything is current, accurate, and complete. You’ll need to review the critical note, and click the box that says, “I have read and accept the privacy policy.” Then click “Submit application.” On the next screen, you’ll receive a confirmation.

Step #17. Review Your Application and Submit VA Disability Claim Online

Need More Help With Your VA Disability Claim?

If you don’t want to do it yourself online, you can also choose to work with an accredited VSO to help you prepare and file your VA claim.

Selecting the appropriate level of representation for your VA claim is critical to getting the VA rating you deserve.

Click HERE to find a list of the best VSOs for VA claims.

About the Author

Brian Reese
Brian Reese

Brian Reese

Brian Reese is one of the top VA disability benefits experts in the world and bestselling author of You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned (Second Edition).

Brian’s frustration with the VA claim process led him to create VA Claims Insider, which provides disabled veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned to win their VA disability compensation claim, faster, even if they’ve already filed, been denied, gave up, or don’t know where to start. 

As the founder of VA Claims Insider and CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, he has helped serve more than 10 million military members and veterans since 2013 through free online educational resources.

He is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).

Related Articles

2025 va special monthly compensation rates

2025 VA SMC Rates & Charts

July 24, 2024

The 2025 VA Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) rates are projected to increase by 2.7%, effective December 1, 2024, with payments starting on January 1, 2025. These updated rates provide... continue reading
2025 VA Disability Payment Schedule

2025 VA Disability Payment Schedule

July 23, 2024

When will my monthly 2025 VA disability compensation payment hit my bank account? For all VA disability compensation benefits, payments are made on the first business day of the following... continue reading

Featured Resources

Elite Membership

Dear Veteran,
Here’s the brutal truth about VA disability claims:

According to our data, 8/10 (80%) of veterans reading this message right now are underrated by the VA…

This means you do NOT currently have the VA disability rating and compensation YOU deserve, and you could be missing out on thousands of dollars of tax-free compensation and benefits each month.

As a fellow disabled Veteran this is shameful and I’m on a mission to change it.

Brian Reese here, Air Force service-disabled Veteran and Founder @ VA Claims Insider.

Since 2016, VA Claims Insider has helped thousands of Veterans just like you get the VA rating and compensation they deserve in less time.

If accepted into our ELITE membership program, you’ll get free up-front access and permission to use $13,119 worth of proprietary VA claim resources, including access to our network of independent medical professionals for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible Medical Nexus Letters, which could help you get a HIGHER VA rating in LESS time.

It’s FREE to get started, so click “Go Elite Now” below to complete our 3-step intake process.

  1. Complete Basic Information
  2. Sign Members Agreement
  3. Join the Mastermind Group

If you’re stuck, frustrated, underrated, and currently rated between 0%-90%, VA Claims Insider Elite is for you!

Click “Go Elite Now” below to get started today and a member of our team will be in touch within minutes.

Go Elite Now!

Why Choose VA Claims Insider

You’ve exhausted your free resources

You're not alone. Thousands of other Veterans in our Community are here for you.

Veteran Community

You’re ready to get the rating you deserve

We know the pain of feeling stuck, frustrated, and alone, and we want to make this process as easy and painless as possible for you.

Explore Elite Membership

We win ONLY when YOU win

Hear from fellow Veterans just like you, with many of our Veteran Ambassadors having gone through our programs.

Schedule a Call

Fellow Veterans:

For a limited time, you can book a free, no-obligation VA Claim Discovery Call with one of our experts.

Book A Call

Fellow Veterans:

For a limited time, you can book a free, no-obligation VA Claim Discovery Call with one of our experts.

Book A Call