If you are a Veteran applying for VA disability benefits, it could take the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) months or years to make a decision on whether you are eligible for them. Fortunately, you may be entitled to back pay benefits once your application is approved. It is important to understand the effective date when your benefits begin so that you receive the back pay that you deserve.
How the VA Determines the Effective Date of Your Back Pay Benefits
When the VA decides that it will pay you disability benefits, they will assign an effective date to the claim. The effective date is the date when your entitlement to disability benefits begin. In general, this date will be one of these two dates, whichever is later:
- Date of your application
- Date you first suffered your illness or injury caused by your military service, which is the date that your entitlement arose
Can the Effective Date for VA Back Pay Be Earlier Than the Application Date?
In most cases, the date a Veteran is entitled to back pay benefits is the date of the application. However, in certain cases, the effective date can be earlier. Here are some situations when this can occur:
Veterans recently discharged. If a recently discharged Veteran applies for VA disability benefits within one year of his discharge, the effective date for his back pay benefits is the date of his discharge.
- Vietnam Veterans. Special rules apply for Veterans who suffer from Agent Orange-related illnesses due to exposure to this substance in Vietnam. In these cases, the date that back pay benefits begin is the date that the VA determined the illness was caused by Agent Orange.
- Error. If the VA makes a “clear and unmistakable error,” the effective date could be earlier than the application date. However, this exception rarely applies.
Contact Us for Assistance in Filing for VA Disability Benefits
The amount of back pay you will receive will be based on the effective date of your claim and the disability rating for your illness or injury. Our experienced VA disability attorneys can ensure that the correct effective date is used and that your disability or illness is properly rated. To learn more about our experience fighting for the rights of disabled Veterans and how we can assist you, call our Roswell office to schedule your free case evaluation.