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Filing for VA Disability Benefits Prior to Retirement or Discharge

Some will describe the process to receive their disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs as arduous and having taken forever. Well, the process is certainly thorough, which can seem arduous to some and sometimes it does take a long time, but the VA has a program for those who have not yet retired or been discharged from active duty that can considerably reduce the time waiting for that first disability check. The VA pre-discharge claims application program is called Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) and can take much less time than do claims submitted after discharge.

Under BDD, Soldiers are eligible to submit disability compensation claims to VA between 90-180 days before their separation from active duty or retirement date. The Soldier intending to apply for BDD first must complete their disability claim by submitting VA Form 21- 526EZ with supporting medical records and documentation indicating treatment or diagnosis of injury or disease and/or any evidence indicating occurrence of an injury or situation that could create or aggravate a disability. It is recommended Soldiers seek assistance submitting disability claims from Accredited Representatives, also known as Veterans Service Officers (Directory of Veteran Service Organizations, www.va.gov/vso/) or contact VA representatives at a SFL-TAP office for information and assistance. Above all, Soldiers are urged to submit their claims as close to the 180 day mark as possible to allow time for processing.

Soldiers inside of 90 days to discharge are not eligible for BDD, however, they may still file their claims prior to discharge under the VA Fully Developed Claim Program, the standard VA claims process, or any other qualifying VA claims program, however they will not receive expedited handling.

Soldiers who use the BDD pre-discharge program can expect to receive a decision on their claim prior to their separation and their first payment within 60 - 90 days afterwards. Of course, those results are not guaranteed and may vary due to the complexity or completeness of the individual’s claim submission.

The world of benefits available to Soldiers, their families, veterans, retirees and survivors is often complex, sometimes convoluted or confusing, subject to change and definitely hard to pin down. Remember, when it comes to benefits, MyArmyBenefits is your best resource to find the information you need.