Steuben County Veterans Service Officers are accredited by the American Legion. They are trained to know what benefits are available and who is qualified to receive those benefits.
Accreditation means the authority granted by VA to assist claimants in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims for benefits. 38 C.F.R. §14.627(a). Unaccredited individuals may provide other services to veterans so long as they do not assist in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims for benefits.
When you make your first appointment with the Veterans Service Agency, you must have a copy of your DD214 (all of them). Without this document, it cannot be determined that you are eligible for any benefits.
If you do not have your DD214, a Service Officer can help you order one.
Other items that may be needed include the following (depending on your claim):
- Copy of Marriage Certificate
- Copy of divorce decree for veterans and/or spouse
- Copy(s) of birth certificate(s) for spouse and each claimed dependent
- Social Security numbers for spouse and each claimed dependent
- Copy of Social Security award letters showing current benefit rate. Proof of any Military Retired Pay or Severance Pay you may have received or are receiving.
- Copy of pension or annuity award letter showing current benefit rate
- For Pension benefits, proof of all family income
- Copy of death certificate, if applying for survivor's benefits or burial benefits
- Copy of guardianship document/court letters
- Any correspondence from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- Bank account and routing numbers (required for direct deposit of VA payments)
- Medical evidence of your diagnosis including treatment records, statement(s) from doctor(s) showing current medical condition being claimed that list date of diagnosis and doctor's name and contact information (address, phone, fax). If unable to obtain records, then provide the name, location and dates of treatment.
- Medical evidence indicating that the disability was caused by or arose during your active duty service
- Collateral statement(s) - eyewitness accounts. Letters from individuals (lay statements) regarding what they observed regarding your claimed conditions. They may not provide a medical opinion, only what they observed. For example "He walked with a limp", "She appeared to be depressed", etc.
- Other evidence you believe will support your request
Note: All documents (especially DD214) should be either originals or certified copies. A claim may be filed without all of the required documents; however, all of the above information relevant to the claim will be needed before a decision can be made. Claims received without full information may take longer to process or be denied until the information is received. Claims based on a non-service-connected disability or death generally require active duty during a recognized wartime period.