Filing for Benefits before Separation

It’s to your advantage to file your disability claim prior to separating, retirement, or release from active duty or demobilization. Processing times may be much shorter for claims submitted before discharge than after discharge. Pre-discharge programs provide Service members with the opportunity to file claims for disability compensation up to 180 days prior to separating or retiring from active duty or full-time National Guard or Reserve duty (Titles 10 and 32).

You can apply for disability compensation through one of the following:

 Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD)Quick StartOverseas Intake Sites
When to apply prior to separation? 60-180 days 1-59 days Within 180 days
Availability Nationwide Nationwide  Select military installations in Germany and Korea

Integrated Disability Evaluation System

The Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) is used to determine a Service member's fitness for duty. The Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) worked together to make disability evaluation seamless, simple, fast, and fair. If the Service member is found medically unfit for duty, the IDES gives them a proposed VA disability rating before they leave the service. These ratings are normally based on VA examinations that are conducted using required IDES examination templates.

For More Information

While in a pre-discharge program, you may also apply for other VA benefits, such as Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, Education, and Loan Guaranty. The following resources are available when initially applying for benefits:

  • Visit VA Returning Service Members (OEF/OIF) for additional information, including resources for family and outreach activities for returning service members.
  • VA Benefits in Brief is a printable document that provides an at-a-glance description of VA benefits, as well as, contact phone numbers and locations.
  • Visit TurboTAP and MilitaryOneSource for 24/7 access to helpful guides on pre-separation and transition, information on employment, education, relocation, benefits, and more.