Under normal circumstances, the Department of Veterans Affairs requires the original or a certified copy of discharge papers when applying for VA aid and attendance benefits.
However, due to the pandemic, the VA is acting more leniently. The VA is starting to accept regular copies of a veteran’s DD 214 or Report of Separation paperwork.
In a recent letter that we reviewed, the VA wrote the following: “Due to local conditions caused by COVID-19, the National Personnel Records Center (the National Archives) is currently operating at reduced capacity. As a result, official records are not currently able to be obtained from their archives. Please note that while uncertified copies of service verification documents may be accepted, a subsequent verification of service may occur once official documentation is received from NPRC.”
This matches our experience submitting applications for aid and attendance pension to the VA over the last several months. More than ever, the VA is accepting regular copies of discharge paperwork. If you do not want to send original discharge paper documentation or do not have a certified copy, here is what we recommend when submitting your claim for VA benefits:
- — Complete Standard Form 180, which can be located at archives.gov. Inform the VA that the discharge document is needed to pay for medical and healthcare expenses.
- — Fax the completed Standard Form 180 to the National Archives using the following fax number – 1.314.801.0764.
- — Keep a copy of the fax confirmation showing that the form was received by the National Archives.
- — Print out the first two pages of Covid information found on this webpage — https://www.archives.gov/coronavirus
- — Fax your fully developed claim for aid and attendance benefits to the VA using this fax number – 1.844.655.1604
- — To provide qualifying military service, include the following: a copy of the discharge papers, the signed Standard Form 180, the copy of the fax confirmation, and a copy of the two pages from archives website.
The above should be sufficient to prove military service without sending original or certified copies of the discharge papers. We still recommend mailing your application for VA benefits if you have a certified copy.