By Andy Gero
Veterans or Survivors Filing for Benefits
There are different ways a veteran or their survivors may file for benefits. The procedure must be submitted in accordance with the Veterans Administration guidelines.
First you must file form VA Form 21-0966 “Intent To File” for benefits. This form must be filed only once. There are different ways to file this form.
• With a veterans service officer (VSO). VFW Post 1614 and American Legion Post 288 in La Crescenta have a VSO officer available to serve you. He may be contacted through the CV Weekly, (818) 248-2740.
• By phone/ in person. Call the VA National Call Center at (800) 827-1000, or visit a public contact representative at the VA Regional Office. Federal Building, 11000 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90042. Be advised that this may be an all day process. It is recommended that you seek the services of a VSO Officer to expedite filing your Form 21-0966.
• By paper. By completing VA Form 21-0966, Intent to File a Claim for Compensation and/or Pension, or Survivors Pension and/or DIC, and then mail or fax it to the VA. This form may be downloaded at www.va.gov/vaforms.
Essentially, form 21-0966 will only notify the VA that you intend to file for benefits. After filing form 21-0966 you will need to collect all your data and submit it on form 21-526EZ for veteran’s compensation, form 21-527EZ for veteran’s pension and form 21-534EZ for survivor’s death pension, and/or accrued benefits. These forms must be submitted within one year after filing form 21-0966.
Andy Gero is a life member of the American Legion Post, 288 and the VFW Post 1614. He may be reached through the CV Weekly at (818) 248-2740, or write Crescenta Valley Weekly at 3800 La Crescenta Ave., Suite 101, La Crescenta, CA 91214.