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July 18, 2021

VA Intent to File – Your Top 5 Questions Answered

Last updated on December 7, 2022

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.

Don’t risk missing out on thousands of dollars in compensation as you wait to file your disability claim!

If you’re a veteran or a survivor, you can use the VA intent to file process to get extra time (up to a year!) to gather additional support for your claim. This process offers you the chance to receive back pay (once the claim is filed and approved) for the period of time you were still preparing for your claim.

va intent to file

I can’t emphasize this enough: file an intent to claim NOW and lock in your effective date! 

You can use intent to file for VA compensation and pension benefits, including survivors’ pension and dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC).

Let’s dive right in with answers to some common questions!


Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call with an experienced Team Member. Learn what you’ve been missing so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation you’ve earned for your service.

What’s the VA intent to file process?

If you’re not ready to file a claim yet, the VA intent to file process gives you more time to prepare and collect supportive evidence for your claim. It also protects the earliest possible effective date for any benefits resulting from your claim. That means that the effective date of benefits is when the VA receives your intent to file form.

Once you’ve submitted your intent to file, you can begin to gather the information needed for your claim, for up to one year from your intent to file effective date. 

How do I submit or register my VA intent to file claim?

If you do plan to file your disability application online, sign in to your account (or register for one) on the VA home page, then click on “file for compensation.”

intent to file va claim

If you aren’t going to file your actual claim right away, you can submit your intent to file form. You can do that online, by phone, or in writing.

Intent to File VA Claim Online

Go to to register or log in, and:   

  • initiate a claim
  • complete the personal information page
  • hit “save” to establish your effective date (you’ll have one year to complete your application from this date)
va form intent to file

Note: To ensure your filing is complete, continue the process until the application informs you that your intent to file was successfully submitted.

Intent to File VA Claim by Phone

  •  Call (800) 827-1000, M – F, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Intent to File VA Claim Online in Writing (VA Form 21-0966)

  • Download and fill out the VA Intent to File form (VA Form 21-0966)
  • Print and turn in your intent to file VA form by mailing it to:
    Department of Veterans Affairs
    Claims Intake Center
    PO Box 4444
    Janesville, WI 53547-4444
  • …or print and take it to a VA regional office near you 
  • Working with an accredited representative to help you apply for VA disability benefits
VA Form 21 0966

Step-By-Step Tutorial on How to File a VA Claim

If I start my disability application, is that my intent to file?

Your disability claim IS your filing. Intent to file lets the VA know you’re planning to file in the future and starts your effective date in most cases. If you start your disability claim application, you won’t need an intent to file, because you’ve already filed, and the actual claim application will set your effective date. The intent to file is specifically used to start the clock on your claim, even if you’re not ready to file the official claim.

If you’re ready to start your disability claim, by all means do that. But if you don’t already have a claim open, and you’re planning to file a claim and not ready, use the intent to file so that you can potentially capture back pay (dating back to your intent to file) once you win your actual claim.

Why did I not get back pay to my effective date?

On rare occasions, your “effective date” may not be the same as the date you filed your VA intent to file form. This could be because of a question about diagnosis date; you can’t receive back pay on a disability until you’re diagnosed with that condition.

How the VA Handles Back Pay

Can you give me an example of how the VA intent to file works?

Here is a sample case:

  • The VA receives your intent to file on May 1, 2022
  • The VA receives your application for compensation benefits on February 1, 2023

In this case, the VA considers an effective date of May 1, 2022, for any benefits awarded from your February 1, 2023 application. 


Regardless of what state you live in, it’s important that you pursue the monthly compensation payments due to you for disabilities connected to your military service.

Most veterans are underrated for their disabilities and therefore not getting the compensation they deserve. At VA Claims Insider, we help veterans understand and take control of the claims process so they can get the rating and compensation they’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 in less time!  

If you’ve filed your VA disability claim and have been denied or have received a low rating – or you’re not sure how to get started – reach out to us for a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call, so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation you deserve. We’ve supported more than 15,000 veterans to win their claims and increase their ratings. NOW IT’S YOUR TURN.

About the Author

Eddie Chavarria

Eddie Chavarria

A 14-year Army and National Guard Veteran, Eddie spent six years enlisted and deployed to Iraq in 2004. When he returned, he applied to and was accepted for flight school.

He ended his career as Warrant Officer with three aircraft under his belt (Blackhawk, Apache A/D and Lakota) and Maintenance Platoon Leader. He has enjoyed his success working with veterans at VACI, finding it both rewarding and humbling.

You can connect with Eddie at [email protected]

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