The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) handles the benefits and services that veterans are entitled to as a result of their military service. Services for veterans include beneficiary financial counseling, a career center, educational and vocational counseling, a fiduciary program, an independent living program, mortgage delinquency assistance and the VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC) program. Benefits for veterans include disability compensation, pension benefits, education benefits, home loan benefits and life insurance. To access some or all of these benefits and services, veterans must know their Veterans Affairs file number.
The Veterans Affairs File Number
The VA keeps tracks of veterans claims by file number in its electronic database. All of a veteran’s claims are filed under his or her file number. Also, documents associated with a particular claim, such as medical records for a disability claim or tuition bills that should be covered under the GI Bill, are organized under the veteran’s file number. Usually, whenever a veteran or a veteran’s dependent wants to contact the VA about a particular claim, whether by mail or by phone, he or she must provide the file number
The VA file number is also called the VA claim number, which is usually the veteran’s Social Security number without the dashes. In some situations, however, a separate claim number may have been assigned. Since VA only started using the veterans’ Social Security numbers as the file number in the mid-1970s, a veteran who filed a claim before that time may have received an arbitrary number as the file number.
Read More: How to File a Complaint With the Department of Veterans Affairs
Location of the Veterans Affairs File Number
The VA file number can be found on the upper right corner of the letters that the VA sends to veterans and their dependents regarding their claims. Typically, there is a note that states, “In Reply Refer to...” followed by a series of numbers and/or letters separated by a slash. Below that number is the file number. It should be clearly labeled as the file number, and under the file number is the veteran’s name.
Visiting Veterans Affairs Benefit Offices
Veterans and their dependents may also get help with finding their VA file numbers by speaking to personnel at a VA benefit office. The VA’s website has a facilitator locator tool that lets people search for their nearest VA benefit office by typing in their city, state or postal code. Veterans can filter their results by service type to find the locations that offer the specific type of service they’re looking for.
For example, a veteran who has filed a disability claim with the VA can search for a VA benefit office that provides disability claims help. Another veteran who has filed an education claim with the VA can search for a VA benefit office that provides education claims help. The search results will provide the facility’s name, address and phone number.
Calling Veterans Affairs
Veterans and their dependents can also call the VA toll-free for assistance in finding their VA file numbers. The number to call is 1-800-827-1000. The call center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. EST. This number is for those who have questions regarding their benefits, such as their GI Bill or disability benefits, or who want a status update on their claims. Veterans who are hearing impaired can call 1-800-829-4833.
The VA file number is usually the same as the veteran's Social Security number.