Military service is demanding. After receiving an honorable discharge, Veterans often struggle to return to civilian life. For many American heroes, adaptation simply takes time. However, many service people find their new lives interrupted by old injuries.
When service-related injuries make it difficult to perform routine tasks, Veterans may be unable to find or maintain regular employment. Without a steady job, supporting yourself—or a family—could prove impossible.
While the Department of Veterans Affairs offers disability compensation for individual unemployability, your benefits could depend on the information and evidence you provide when completing VA Form 21-8940, Veteran’s Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability.
VA Form 21-8940, Veteran’s Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability
The Department of Veterans Affairs Form 21-8940 lets Veterans apply for additional benefits if they believe that a service-related disability has complicated their ability to find or retain steady employment.
Even if you are already receiving disability benefits, VA Form 21-8940, Veteran’s Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability, provides an opportunity to apply for increased compensation if a documented injury has progressed.
VA Form 21-8940 is comprised of the following seven sections:
Section I – Veteran Identification Information
Section I requires the applicant to provide personal information that the Department of Veterans Affairs needs to locate their service and health records. You should provide, at a minimum, the following:
- Your full name
- Your Social Security number
- Your VA file number
- Your date of birth
- Your current mailing address, even if it is different from your residential address
- Your telephone number
While the Department of Veterans Affairs can still adjudicate applications that do not contain all of the required identification information, any missing section could result in a delay or adverse determination.
Section II – Disability and Medical Treatment
Section II asks that applicants provide medical information related to their claim. When completing Section II – Disability and Medical Treatment, Veterans should think in broad terms, especially when answering the question posed in Item 8, What service-connected disability prevents you from securing or following any substantially gainful occupation?
If you have already been diagnosed with a service-related disability that has progressed, list the condition and provide relevant treatment information in the subsequent fields.
However, if you have a diagnosed disability that has not yet been service-connected, you should explain your disability in general terms.
Section III – Employment Statement
Section III is comprised of several distinct subsections. The first subsection, which includes Items 14 through 17, asks questions about your disability, its impact on your work, and your prior earnings. Do note that, for Items 17a through 17c, you should provide information on the “most money you have ever earned” in any year. Depending on your employment history, you could refer to your service-related income, or tax returns filed while working for a private business.
Item 18 includes multiple spaces to detail your work history for the past five years. Every entry should include:
- Your employer’s name and address
- The type of work you performed
- How many hours you worked per week
- Approximate dates of employment
- Your highest gross earnings per month
- The time you had to take to away from work due to illness or disability
If you need additional space to complete Section III, use Section V – Remarks. You must also indicate whether you are currently serving in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces or the National Guard.
Additionally, if you have worked in the past 12 months or applied for any jobs in the past 12 months, you must detail your recent earnings and list the employers you contacted when applying.
Section IV – Schooling and Other Training
Section IV – Schooling and Other Training, ask about your past and current education and vocational training. When assessing Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability claims, the Department of Veterans Affairs will consider how your educational qualifications, or lack thereof, could impact your ability to return to the workforce.
Section V – Remarks
Section V – Remarks, is an open-ended section. You can use Section V to share additional evidence or observations that you believe could support your claim. You may leave Section V incomplete if you have nothing else to add.
Section VI – Authorization, Certification, and Signature
The purpose of Section VI is to affirm that you have applied for disability-related compensation in good faith.
If the Department of Veterans Affairs finds that you have provided false or misleading information, you could be penalized, including fines and imprisonment. By certifying VA Form 21-8940, you are stating that you are unable to find or retain substantially gainful employment as the result of your service-related disability or disabilities.
Every VA application for benefits must be signed in ink. The Department of Veterans Affairs will not adjudicate Form 21-8940 if it is not properly signed and dated by the applicant.
Section VII – Where to Send Correspondence
The final section of VA Form 21-8940 provides instructions on where to mail your application for benefits.
You may submit VA Form 21-8940 by standard or certified mail. While you are not required to send VA Form 21-8940 by certified mail, submitting your application through certified mail creates a paper trail and could help hold the department accountable in the event that they claim they never received your application.