Military Discharge Papers
Submitting the veteran’s discharge paperwork to the VA is a necessary and important part of qualifying for Aid and Attendance benefits. Before the VA evaluates your claim, they must confirm that the veteran meets the service requirements necessary to qualify for Aid and Attendance pension benefits. The VA will confirm the dates of service, the length of service, and the character of discharge.
On January 1, 1950 or after:
- DD Form 214
- Certificate of Release
- Discharge From Active Duty
Before January 1, 1950:
Report of Separation documents:
- WD AGO 53
- WD AGO 53-55
- NAVPERS 553
- NAVMC 78 PD
If you don’t have any of the above documents, or an equivalent document, you will need to order the veteran’s military separation documents. These documents will contain the veteran’s service information that the VA will use to determine eligibility for Aid and Attendance pension.
There are two methods for requesting veteran service records:
Order an expedited certified copy from DD214Direct.com at 888-997-5146. Reference AidandAttendance.com to receive a 5% discount. Cost is $79 however much faster than the requesting directly from the National Archives.
A no cost alternative is to order service records from the National Archives. You can make the request online, by mail, or by fax at this web address: https://www.archives.gov/veterans
Depending on the availability of records, the average wait time by ordering from DD214Direct.com is 2-4 weeks, but some cases can take longer. Ordering directly from the National Archives has a typical turn around time of 1-3 months.
What do I do if I have the veterans original discharge paperwork?
While you can send the original discharge papers to the VA, we do NOT recommend sending originals because the VA will not return them. If you do send the originals to the VA, we recommend making a copy for your own records and ordering a report of separation form from the National Archives.
If you have the original discharge papers but do not want to send them, then you can have a certified copy made and submit the certified copy to the VA instead of the originals. A certified copy is not the same as a notarized copy. There are multiple ways to get a certified copy of your original discharge papers.
How do I get a certified copy of my original discharge papers?
- Order a certified copy from the national archives in St. Louis. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
- Take the original to a county courthouse and request that the Recorder of Deeds or the Office of the Prothonotary make a certified version of the original. Under this option, you will leave with the original and the certified copy. Call in advance to confirm the courthouse can make you a certified copy.
- Take the original to a Veterans Service Officer that has been trained and approved to certify discharge papers.
The VA encourages claimants to submit a certified copy and not the original discharge paperwork.
What if I only have a copy of the veteran’s discharge paperwork?
If you only have a copy of the veteran’s discharge papers, this means that you do not have the originals or a certified copy. We suggest you get a certified copy using the options above. If you submit a copy of the discharge papers to the VA, we cannot guarantee that you won’t receive a letter from the VA requesting the originals or a certified copy of the original.
Multiple experienced VA accredited attorneys fax the majority of their claims for pension benefits to the VA. They report that the VA has no issue receiving a copy of the discharge papers. Faxing your full application to the VA along with the discharge papers is likely a viable way of submitting a claim to the VA without sending an original or certified copy of the discharge papers. However, mailing your application to the VA with a regular copy of the discharge papers may result in a VA development letter.