Filling Out Your First VA Disability Compensation Claim Form: A Step-by-Step Guide

Navigating the VA Disability Compensation Claim Form can be a daunting endeavor. Precision in filling out this form is crucial for a successful claim. This guide provides a step-by-step walkthrough for completing the form, advises on averting common errors, and instructs on succinctly expressing your needs.

Understanding the VA Claim Form

The VA Form 21-526EZ, “Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits,” is required for initiating a the first disability compensation claim for any specific disability. This form captures personal information, military history, health conditions, and the specifics of your claim.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Personal Information: Begin by providing your full legal name, Social Security number, and permanent contact information in Section. If you are living temporarily at a different address, provide that information in Section II.
  2. Homeless Status: Indicate whether you are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Section III.
  3. Toxic Exposure Information: If you were exposed to any kind of toxin during your military service, and you’re claiming that your disabilities are related to that exposure, complete Section IV. Provide the requested information regarding the exposure.
  4. Disability Details: List each disability you are claiming in Section V. This is essential to provide VA with why you believe the disability or condition is caused by or related to your service. NOTE: Include in this section every disability you wish to claim. If it is not listed, VA will not consider it. If you require additional space, you can use page 15 of the VA Form 21-526EZ and submit as many copies of that as necessary with the rest of the Form to provide a complete list.

Also, include below the list of disabilities the names and locations of your treatment providers for these conditions.

  1. Military Service Information: Detail your service history, including service dates, branches, and type of discharge in Section VI.
  2. Service Pay: If you were provided with any separation pay or retirement pay due to your military service, provide the details of that pay in Section VII.
  3. Benefit Payments: VA requires that any cash benefits be paid by direct deposit if you have a checking or savings account with a bank or financial institution. Provide the bank information in Section VIII.
  4. Certification and Signature: Sign and date the completed application form in Section IX. If the veteran signs with an X, two witnesses must also sign and complete Section X. If the veteran is unable to sign the form, an alternative person may sign the form on the veteran’s behalf by following the instructions in Section XI. If the veteran has appointed a representative to assist with the claim submission using a VA Form 21-22 or VA Form 21-22a, that representative may complete Section XII.

Tips for Avoiding Common Mistakes

  • Accuracy: Double-check all entered information for accuracy. Incorrect details can result in unnecessary delays.
  • Completeness: Do not leave any section incomplete. Missing information can lead to a claim being deferred or denied. If a particular box is not applicable to you, enter “N/A” as warranted.
  • Clarity: Be clear and precise in your descriptions. Ambiguities can lead to misinterpretation of your claim.
  • Documentation: Attach all supporting medical and service documents. Incomplete evidence can weaken your claim. It can be helpful to provide personal statements that describe how your service-connected conditions affect your daily life. If possible, include statements from fellow service members or family.
  • Review: Before submitting, review the entire form for any errors or omissions.


Filling out the VA Disability Compensation Claim Form with accuracy and clarity is vital for the proper adjudication of your claim. Adhering to these step-by-step instructions and tips can help streamline the process.