Often overlooked, an intent to file (also known as VA Form 21-0966) is an important step in beginning your claim for VA compensation. The intent to file gives you additional time of up to a year to gather evidence to support your claim before filing. This will help get you the earliest effective date possible for any benefits awarded resulting from the first formal claim filed after the filing of your intent to file. Since the effective date will determine how much back pay you will receive, this is one of the easiest methods to maximize your compensation.

Since you can only file one intent to file at a time and it can only be used for the first claim filed, it is important to make sure that you claim includes every condition that you may want compensation, even ones that require additional development. If for some reason you discover that you have additional conditions for which you want to apply, but were not included in the first claim filed after your intent to file, you can either submit another intent to file while you develop your claim or go ahead and file.