You must complete and file VA Form 21-0781 as an initial step to support a claim for a service connection for PTSD. Veteran Ratings can assist you with a risk-free initial consultation and guide you to appropriate providers in our extensive and experienced network to help you complete this form and supporting evidence so that you can get approval for your disability rating as quickly as possible.
What Is VA Form 21-0781?
VA Form 21-0781 is officially called a Statement in Support of Claim for Service Connection for PTSD. You must complete it if you’ve been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder and want to apply for related benefits or services.
You can download a PDF here, get a copy of the form at your regional VA office or call the VA to request one at 800-827-1000.
NOTE: Make sure you use the correct form. Some applicants attempt to submit VA Form 21-0781a, but this should only be used if you’ve been diagnosed with PTSD related to or because of personal assault and want to apply for related benefits or services.
How the VA Form 21-0781 Impacts Your Claims Process
To get approved for a VA claim for combat PTSD, you’ll be required to prove these three elements on your Form 21-0781:
- You have a current medical diagnosis of PTSD
- A stressor event caused your combat PTSD during your military service
- You have a medical nexus that links your PTSD to the stressor event
The form will help you organize what you need to provide and ensure you have details necessary for the VA to make a determination.
Eligibility Criteria for Submitting a VA Form 21-0781
To be considered for benefits and services, you must provide evidence of a PTSD diagnosis and proof of the traumatic in-service event that caused your PTSD diagnosis.
In Part II of the form, you must list the specific stressful events that you feel caused your PTSD diagnosis. To give you the best chance for approval, for each event, you’ll need to describe the date and location of the event, your unit assignment, including dates, and what happened. If applicable, you’ll also need to provide the full names and unit assignments of anyone killed or injured and any medals you received due to the event. The dates should be as specific as possible but can fall in a 60-day range without hurting your chances for approval.
The most important thing is to remember and include it on the form as much as possible. The more information you provide, the better.
The VA will likely reject a PTSD service connection if you can’t verify a specific stressor or you haven’t been officially diagnosed with PTSD. However, your military records may document sudden behavioral changes and disciplinary actions taken against you that can be described as out of character. That may add the evidence necessary to prove your PTSD claim.
Another way to bolster your claim is to have those who served with you submit “buddy letters” testifying to traumatic events not documented in your military records. Those statements may be able to be verified through other means of investigation.
Tips for Filling Out VA Form 21-0781
Veteran Ratings and our network of consulting partners will work with you every step of the way as you work through the complexities of your claim form. Our goal is to ensure when you submit your claim that it is approved as quickly as possible, avoiding frustrating delays and unnecessary back and forth interactions with the VA.
We’ll focus your efforts on the following:
You risk your claim being denied if you’re not accurate in your statement of events. If you tell the VA one thing but later remember it differently, you’ll need to take steps to update your form. If you don’t, the VA may see you as unreliable when matching your statement to official military records, which could lead to a denial.
If you’re not sure of your circumstances, Veteran Ratings and our partners will consult with you to help you work through your submission paperwork so that you can document requested information the best possible way. The VA understands that it can be painful to recall traumatic memories and may make some allowances, but they are also looking for concrete ways to corroborate the details of your claim. With that in mind, it is acceptable to note on the form that you may be having some recall issues.
When possible, we will advise you to provide as much detail as possible. The more information you can provide that can be documented through other means, the more likely your claim approval. When possible, we guide you to enhance your narrative with descriptive passages that relay how you feel now vs. how you felt before your PTSD. Documenting these issues through doctor’s statements or mental health care is important to include as well.
Understand that even with Veteran Ratings’ consulting partners expert assistance, it can take time to process your claim. If reliving your trauma negatively impacts your mental health, get help without delay by contacting the Veteran’s Crisis Hotline or other similar resources for immediate help. You can reach this hotline by dialing 988 and then pressing 1 to reach 24/7 caring, qualified responder support.
Frequently Asked Questions about VA Form 21-0781
Where can I obtain VA Form 21-0781?
You can download a PDF here. Applicants also have the option of filling out and submitting a paper form. You can get a copy of the form at your regional VA office or call the VA to request one at 800-827-1000.
Are there any supporting documents that should be submitted with VA Form 21-0781?
We work closely with you to ensure you have all pertinent documents to help support your claim. This can be medical diagnoses, test results, military records, statements from those you served with, and any other documentation that will help substantiate your claim.
Should I Use VA Form 21-0781 or VA Form 21-0781a?
VA Form 21-0781a is used by veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD resulting from personal assaults such as physical attacks and military sexual trauma and who are seeking PTSD benefits or services.
Veterans with PTSD caused by all other forms of trauma should fill out VA Form 21-0781.
How long does it typically take to process VA Form 21-0781?
When a Veteran submits a claim, it typically takes at least a year for a decision and often longer due to several added inquiries by the VA. However, consulting with Veteran Ratings and our provider network to guide gathering documents and evidence typically cuts the decision process to about 6-8 months after Veterans submit Form 21-0781.
There are a few instances when processing can be expedited and other cases where the determination process may take longer, but with our assistance Veterans enjoy a first time 95 % approval rate.