Service members can file for disability compensation before they leave active duty. Service members can do so if they are within 180 days of separation and have a tentative separation date. There are two types of pre-discharge claims a service member can file;
A BDD claim (Benefits Delivery at Discharge) can be filed by service members who meet the following criteria;
- 60 to 180 days from separation.
- will be able to attend all C&P exams before separation.
- and are not claiming any disabilities that fall under the "pro-longed development" definition, which include claims based on the "undiagnosed Gulf War symptoms, radiation exposure, or claiming PTSD with out an in-service diagnosis.
If a service member qualifies under the BDD program, then they will be scheduled for all needed C&P exams at their nearest BDD facility before their separation date. Once the needed exams have been completed, their claims folder is then forwarded to either the Winston-Salem regional office (if they are separating from the military from an installation located in the eastern U.S., Europe, or Africa), or the Salt Lake City regional office (if they are separating from an installation located in the western U.S., or Pacific) for a decision.
A Quickstart claim can be filed by a service member who meet the following criteria;
- 1 to 180 days from separation and cannot be present for all needed C&P exams before separation.
- 1 to 59 days from separation.
- claiming disabilities which fall under the "prolonged development," definition, which include claims based on the "undiagnosed Gulf war illnesses," radiation exposure, or claiming PTSD without an in-service diagnosis.
- service members who are severely injured or terminally ill.
If the service member falls under the "Quickstart" claim, their claims folder will be either sent to the Winston-Salem regional office (if you're separating from active duty from Europe, the Middle East or the eastern half of the U.S.), the San Diego regional office (if you're separating from the western half of the U.S., the Pacific, or Japan and Korea), or the regional office who has jurisdiction over the area where they will be residing after separation (this is based on the forwarding address noted on the disability compensation application, and whether or not any condition noted above under the "prolonged development" was claimed). Any needed C&P exams will be authorized by that servicing regional office and be scheduled at the nearest VAMC or out-patient clinic where the veteran will be residing after separation.
If you're a service member who meets the above criteria and would like to file a pre-discharge disability compensation claim before separation, you'll need to fill out VAF 21-526c or VAF 21-526EZ and attach a copy of all service treatment records for all periods of service. Also if you have any dependents, you'll need to fill out VAF 21-686c and attach a copy of any birth certificates, marriage certificates and any divorce decrees from both you and your spouse nullifying any previous marriages. Then send all of this to your installation intake site.
If you're a service member within 180 days of your separation (regardless of where you're currently stationed) and would like assistance in filing a pre-discharge claim, feel free to contact me.