The effective date of a VA disability claim is the date a veteran becomes eligible for benefits. The date is often regarded as the most important part of a veteran’s benefits claim because it affects the total VA compensation you receive. A wrong effective date can result in months or years of lost benefits, which can add up to tens of thousands of dollars. An effective date is the latest of either the date a veteran filed a claim or the date a service-connected injury or eligibility otherwise arose, which will be explained later in this article.
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In this article about VA disability effective dates
The date a veteran’s disability benefits become effective plays a big role in the back pay a former service member receives from the VA. On the surface, the effective date means what it sounds like. It’s the official date when a veteran is entitled to disability benefits.
Typically, the effective date is the date when the veteran filed a claim for disability benefits. However, veterans have successfully appealed for earlier effective dates. Common situations include appealing claims the VA previously dismissed or revisiting a pending claim the veteran may have forgotten. In those cases, the effective date could become when the earliest claim was filed. The result: An increased payout to the veteran.
When a claim is granted, the VA must pay retroactive disability benefits to the effective date. Claims and subsequent appeals can take years to resolve, meaning a veteran could be in line for thousands of additional dollars once their case is granted.
What is the effective date of a VA disability claim?
Determining the effective date seems simple on the surface. The general rule is the effective date is either the date the VA receives the claim or the date entitlement arose, whichever comes later.
The “date entitlement arose” is a complicated term. It is influenced by many factors, such as the date of a formal diagnosis, the type of claim being filed, when the claim was filed, and the nature of any medical treatment records.
The effective date for veterans with a service-connected condition who file a claim within one year of leaving active duty service can be as early as the day following separation.
Effective dates for presumptive conditions
When a veteran files a claim for a condition that is presumably tied to military service within one year of leaving active duty, the effective date could be as early as the day after discharge.
For example, if a veteran is discharged from active duty, files a claim within a year of the discharge and the VA grants, the effective date is usually the day after discharge from active duty.
Other factors in establishing effective dates
- Error in a previous decision If the VA made a clear and unmistakable error (CUE) in an earlier decision, the veteran’s effective date could be determined as though the original claim was granted.
- Vietnam veterans The effective date for Agent Orange claims can go back to the date the veteran first filed for benefits.
- Survivor benefits If a veteran dies and a dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) claim is filed within a year of the veteran’s death and the claim is granted, the effective date is the first day of the first month following the month the veteran died. For claims filed later, the effective date is the date the claim is received.
Why is my VA effective date so important?
The VA effective date is the date a veteran becomes covered by disability benefits and payments begin accumulating.
Making sure your VA effective date is the most accurate to your individual situation is important because it ensures you receive payments that accurately reflect your sacrifices during your military service.
An effective date error could mean you aren’t receiving the correct amount of payment you are owed. The correct effective date can also be very important for survivors’ claims of deceased veterans.
How can the wrong effective date change my VA back pay?
A wrong effective date reduces the amount of back pay a veteran is eligible to receive.
A veteran’s disability rating determines the monthly amount of compensation a veteran receives. The effective date determines when a veteran begins receiving monthly payments. A wrong, or delayed, effective date could mean months or years of unpaid monthly payments. Those missed monthly payments add up to what is called back pay.
It is important veterans receive the earliest effective date their situation is qualified for. This will allow them to receive the maximum amount of back pay once a claim is granted.
“No part of a veteran’s case is more important than the effective date,” said Mike Woods, a VA-certified disability benefits lawyer. “You might have years and years of past-due benefits that you are owed and don’t even realize it.”
Can the wrong effective date affect TDIU?
Veterans who can’t work can receive a benefit called total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU) which pays at the 100% rate of $3,332.06 a month.
If you receive the wrong effective date on a rating decision that includes TDIU, it doesn’t take long for that monthly $3,332.06 to add up to thousands and thousands of dollars.
How to appeal a VA effective date
Appeals cases can be lengthy and nuanced, which is why partnering with a veterans disabilities benefits lawyer is all the more important. If you need help understanding your VA disability effective date, monthly benefits payment, or back pay, reach out to us for a conversation.
Our VA accredited disability attorneys are dedicated to helping veterans fight for the compensation they earned while serving our country. If you need help, we are here.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The effective date of an award is the date that VA states the veteran became entitled to receive benefits, such as disability compensation. It is either the date a claim was filed or the date entitlement arose, whichever is later.
An effective date error could mean missing out on months or years of VA disability benefit payments you are owed.