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Oops! You Submitted the Wrong VA Form!

“Wrong Form” Letters

You thought you had finally figured out which form to send to the VA and how to fill it out. Then, the VA sends you a letter acknowledging your submission, but saying it won’t be accepted because you didn’t use the correct form. The VA isn’t saying they don’t know what your appeal is about, just that they want it on a certain form or it won’t count.

At our firm, we call these letters from the VA “wrong form” letters. When the VA first started sending these out, they just said something like “You filed the wrong form. Please file the right one.” The letter did not say what the deadline was for re-submitting the corrected form. Now, most of these letters require you to resubmit your appeal, on the correct form, within one year.

If you are lucky, the VA will tell you what they received and what you should have submitted. Very often, though, you just get a letter saying they received “a claim” from you and it should have been submitted differently. Many veterans submit more than one thing at a time, so how are you supposed to know which part of your submission was wrong?

Yes, their form letter to you usually has a chart on it telling you what form to submit. But, it’s not that easy. We have been to hour-long seminars focusing on which form to submit for what. And, as you know, the VA has lots of forms.

Types of Forms:

When you submit a new application, you must use a 526-EZ. By “new application” I mean you are making a claim that you never made before.

But, what if you made the claim before? If the claim was denied before you must submit the claim on a 21-0995.

Now, what if you were granted service-connection on a claim more than a year ago, and you want an increase: 526EZ. If within the last year: 21-0995.

If you want a hearing after your claim has been decided the form is 21-10182 – which has three choices for the type of hearing you are requesting. Better choose the right lane the first time, though, because if you don’t, you will lose your place in line.

Frustrated? So are we!

What’s most frustrating about this is that requiring the “right” form makes it harder – not easier – for you to file a claim or appeal. The VA process is supposed to be veteran friendly. But requiring the “right” form — with a threat that your claim won’t be considered otherwise– is not very friendly in my mind.

Some veterans just give up when they get a “wrong form” letter. They view it as the VA playing “hide the ball.” This makes the process frustrating and long to the un-initiated. The VA claims process should be so simple that anyone could navigate it. Instead, it’s very complicated. Most veterans don’t work with these forms all day, so how are you supposed to stay on top of it all!

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