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WDVA: Don’t wait to apply for VA disability compensation prior to leaving military service

The WDVA encourages service members to apply for disability compensation prior to leaving military service. Photo credit: WDVA graphic

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The early bird gets the worm and that can be the case when looking at your earned military benefits.

Don't wait until you separate from the military to apply for VA service-connected disability compensation. 

The Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) program allows service members to apply for VA disability compensation benefits between 180 to 90 days prior to separation from service. 

The BDD program began in 2008 and allows the Federal VA the opportunity to review and approve disability claims prior to the service member's discharge, in many cases.

Applying through the BDD program helps to streamline the VA Disability Claim filing process and helps veterans connect to their earned benefits faster.

This specific timeframe of submitting documentation, paperwork and your application also permits the Federal VA to schedule exams, review service treatment records, and adjudicate the disability claim before separation. In turn this allows the Federal VA to deliver decisions as soon as possible, sometimes as soon as the day after leaving active duty.

"The Washington Department of Veterans Affairs can help, not only do we assist with disability composition applications, but we also provide a wealth of information on VA programs such as home loans, VA medical, education benefits, and many others," said Paul Cruz, Program Manager with the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs.  "We can also provide information on state and local programs available to services members and veterans in Washington state as well as others across the country."

With two locations on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, service members have the perfect opportunity to stop in and receive assistance (appointments are encouraged) at the Service member & Family Assistance Center (SFAC) located at Building 9059 Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA 98433 or at the Crittenberger Career Center in Rm 115 at 3271 2nd Division Dr, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA 98433.

"The earlier you start the better, you have to submit all documents to the VA between 180 and 90 days, but you can start completing the necessary documentation earlier than that," said Cruz. "We recommend starting six months out, so that you have time to gather all the necessary medical records and complete any required medical appointments to ensure that all conditions are part of your BDD claim."  

Even if you missed the 180-90-day window, it's still not too late to file a claim with the Federal VA however, using the BDD process puts your claim in a priority status at the Federal VA. If you choose to wait, your claim will be reviewed along with all other veterans and can take much longer than 180-90 days.

"The longer you wait the more difficult it becomes to gather necessary documents from the service component that provide proof of service-connected injuries," said Cruz. "Ensuring that veterans get the care they have earned is a big component of quality of life, these are lifetime benefits so as time goes by it is comforting to know that the VA will be able to provide the care they need right after discharge, as well as the years down the road."

To apply for VA service-connected disability benefits through the Benefits Delivery at Discharge program, visit their JBLM locations or contact WDVA staff at 1-800-562-2308 or by visiting:

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