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Because it can take a number of months for your veterans’ disability benefits application to be processed, the VA offers eligible veterans full compensation for the claims processing period.

When a veteran is approved for benefits, back pay is calculated from the first day of the month immediately following the effective date. For example, if you file on April 3rd, 2010 and are finally approved for benefits in September 2012, you will receive back pay starting on May 1st, 2010.

Though some people—maybe even other veterans—may try to tell you that you’ll receive back pay from the time you sustained a service-connected disability, this is generally misinformation. Let’s take a look at what determines the amount of back pay a veteran will receive once approved for disability compensation from the VA.

Determining an Effective Date

A crucial piece of information related to your application for VA disability is the effective date. The effective date establishes the beginning of your entitlement to benefits. It is typically based off whichever of the following occurred latest:

  • The date on which the VA received your completed application; or
  • The date on which you satisfied all requirements necessary to be approved for disability compensation – in other words, the first medical evidence of the disability; or
  • A date determined by special circumstances.

Since the vast majority of veterans don’t apply for disability compensation before they have been diagnosed and treated by a doctor, most entitlements begin when the application is initially filed.

Veterans who successfully apply for an increased disability rating will usually receive back pay from the date they applied for the increase.

When a claim is initially denied and later reopened with new medical evidence that causes the VA to reverse the denial, the effective date will usually be the day the claim was reopened, not the date of the original filing.

Special circumstances for effective dates

There are some cases when the effective date may be earlier than the point at which the VA receives the application. These include:

  • Veterans who apply for benefits within a year of discharge from active duty. In this case, the effective date will be the day of their discharge.
  • Veterans who notify the VA of their intent to file with an informal claim within one year of filing officially.
  • Vietnam veterans with disabilities related to Agent Orange exposure that occurred inside of Vietnam. Because the VA didn’t grant service-connections for injuries related to Agent Orange exposure for several years, veterans with this type of disability are frequently awarded back pay to when the VA linked the illness to Agent Orange exposure.
  • Veterans who are able to prove that the VA made a “clear and unmistakable error” in denying their case.
  • You are able to prove that you filed an application with the VA and never received a decision before filing a new application at a later point in time.

If your VA disability benefits claim has special circumstances, consider speaking to a dedicated Dallas VA disability attorney at Morgan & Weisbrod. Set up a free consultation today by calling 800-800-6353.

Morgan & Weisbrod LLP

by Paul B. Burkhalter
Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.


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