If you’re a disabled veteran, you may be aware of the many benefits that you qualify for through the Department of Veterans Affairs. However, many veterans are unaware of the fact that they may qualify for reduced, VA-backed loans and property taxes as a result of their disability. By presenting your benefits letter with the rest of your VA loan documentation, you’ll also be exempt from paying the VA funding fee on your VA purchase or loan refinance. Even better, your compensation benefits can also count toward your qualifying income during the mortgage process.
But in order to qualify for these benefits, you need to show your VA Benefit Summary Letter, also referred to as an award letter. This is a letter that comes from the Department of Veterans Affairs and shows your level of disability and the amount of your monthly benefits. However, many veterans either misplace the letter or need another copy and don’t know how to get another.
If you or another veteran are receiving disability and want to qualify for a reduced VA loan, you will need to provide your Home Loan Expert with your award letter. In this article, we’ll walk through how to find your Benefits Summary Letter and why the letter matters.
How To Get A Copy Of Your VA Award Letter
You should receive your VA award letter after submitting your disability claim with the VA. But if you don’t (or in the event that you didn’t hold on to it), you’re certainly not out of luck. Here are the best methods to access the documents you need for a home purchase or refinance.
Log In To eBenefits
The easiest way to find your VA letter is to create an account on eBenefits and download the documents you need from there. For those unaware, eBenefits is an online platform that helps active-duty service members, veterans and military families access and manage their VA-related benefits.
To register for eBenefits, you need a DoD Self-Service logon. As long as you are registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, you’re eligible to receive DS login credentials. If you’re having trouble logging in to your existing account or need help registering for a new one, you can read through the VA’s eBenefits support topics.
Once you’ve signed in, the VA may ask you to review your personal information, such as your home address, before you’re able to download your letter. From there, you can opt to save the document as a digital copy on your computer or print it out for your records.
Call The VA’s Information Line
If you need help navigating the eBenefits web portal or can’t download your award letter, try calling a VA representative at 1-800-MyVA411 (800-698-2411).
Speak With Your Local VA Office
You may also call your regional VA office and they will be able to walk you through the process. In fact, your local office might be able to mail you a physical copy of your benefits letter if you aren’t able to access your account information online.
Submitting A Claim For A VA Benefits Letter
If you have not yet applied for disability, and are looking to use your VA loan benefits, you’ll need to have an approval from the VA before you can receive your benefit.
A friend and team member just went through the process of applying for the information with his dad and said it was incredibly easy.
- 2 most recent bank statements
- 3 years of tax returns
- 2 most recent pay stubs
- 2 most recent social security awards letters
Most of this information is readily available online and can be printed at home. Based on your eligibility, you may even be able to complete your entire application for disability benefits electronically.
After returning the application along with the above documents to the local regional office, it took about a month for them to review his application because they had all the documents upfront.
If you have already been receiving benefits and need a copy of the awards letter, remember, go to eBenefits and you can download all of your documents and approvals there. Or if you prefer to talk it over with a person, call your local regional VA office and they can help you.
What Your VA Letter Will Include
Award letters inform veterans on the status of their VA claim. Your letter should be sent from the Department of Veterans Affairs and include the following information:
- Your entitlement amount, or the monthly income you will receive as a benefit.
- Your payment start date, or the date in which each award amount listed on your letter goes into effect.
- The reason you are receiving service-related compensation. This includes any changes or updates from a previous disability claim.
- Your disability rating, which is a percentage that represents the severity of a service-connected condition. The VA uses disability ratings to determine the total compensation veterans receive monthly and their eligibility for certain benefits.
Why VA Disability Award Letters Matter
Even if you’re already receiving disability benefits from the VA, it’s a good idea to understand the ins and outs of your VA Benefits Summary Letter – especially in the event that you disagree with the VA’s final verdict. Your award letter could reveal that your disability rating underestimates the magnitude of your condition, or you could discover that you are entitled to other benefits.
Your award letter should pinpoint the steps you need to take if you believe you aren’t being properly compensated or have other objections, and it should also identify the best person to contact for your questions or concerns.
The Bottom Line: Make The Most Of Your Service-Related Benefits
Knowing what your award letter is and where to find it will help ensure that you have access to all of the benefits that you deserve for your service. When it comes to home buying or refinancing, those benefits include saving thousands of dollars by avoiding the VA funding fee.
Already have a copy of your VA award letter and ready to get started on your next VA home loan? Get approved with Rocket Mortgage® today.
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