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(Almost) Everything You need to know about VA Effective Dates

Will I get back pay from the time I was injured in the military? This question is one I encounter with a lot of Veterans, and it is something that is met with a lot of confusion. There are actually a ton of misconceptions about this topic, and I wanted to take time to clear something up.

In a perfect world it would make sense that if you have a back injury while in service, the VA would back pay you until then. However, we can tell by the fact that Wendy Williams gets to be on TV, that this world is not perfect. How does the VA determine this? Back pay has to do with your effective date, and that happens to be the topic of today’s blog.

“But my shoulder was hurt in 1992, why doesn’t the VA pay me from then?” In any form, a lot of Veterans are under the impression that the VA will pay them from the time the original injury occurred. This is simply not true, and I happen to agree with the VA on this policy. I’ll explain. Your effective date will likely be when you applied for VA Disability Compensation. For instance, if you were injured in 1992, but did not file for benefits until 2011, your effective date would be whatever month and day you applied in 2011. This is of course if you get approved. Why am I supportive of the VA in this situation? Well, it makes sense that you would have to file the claim first in order to get compensated for it. In the VA’s mind, if you waited 19 years to file a claim, then it was not bothering you for 19 years. Granted, our Veterans are the toughest people on this planet, and they often “play while hurt,” but there is some logic to the VA policy. I also know that many Veterans were not aware of VA disability compensation when they were discharged, and this really upsets me. I will criticize the VA, and the military, for not educating individuals when they are discharged about the disability process and the options for filing. Unfortunately not knowing that you could file isn’t something we can argue with the VA when it comes to effective dates.

Another thing to consider is what happens when you file for an increase. If you were granted 20% for a condition in 2003, but waited until 2006 to file for an increase, the effective date for the increase will be 2006. (If you are granted.) The effective date for an increase is always the date in which you filed for increase. It will not go back to your original effective date.

“What if I was granted, but then filed an appeal.” This is yet another variable when it comes to effective dates. For instance, if you were granted 30% for PTSD in March of 2013, but then filed an appeal on that rating, and were granted an increase, your effective date may still be March of 2013. The reason for this is that you disagreed with the rating you were awarded, and your claim did not close. However, the same effective date is not guaranteed. In the case of an appeal, your effective date can also be when new evidence was submitted. So, if you only had enough evidence for 30% during the original grant, but submitted evidence that warranted an increase 9 months after the appeal, your new effective date would then likely be when the evidence was submitted. In this case, that was 9 months after the appeal was filed.

“Someone I served with got back pay from the day he was discharged.” Well, this is a possibility as well. The way it works is a great program called “Benefits Delivery at Discharge,” or BDD for short. It’s actually a program that was set up to allow Veterans to apply for disability benefits as a part of the discharge process.

Also, the VA has special circumstances for those who don’t file as part of the discharge process but still file within one year of discharge. The VA Website states the following: For these claims, the effective date will be the day following separation. So, this is another example of how a Veteran would know someone who was connected from their time in service. 

Are there exceptions to the rules? Absolutely, because every case is different. Plus there are also things like CUE’s and the Nehmer Laws from a few years back that can always change things. Did I cover everything there is about effective dates? Absolutely not. This is just a general guide. When I set out to write this blog post I didn’t think it was going to be too involved. However, after digging deeper into the tangled web that is effective dates, I realized it was much more complex than I had originally thought. In fact, I learned something new about filing appeals by consulting our appeals clerk. This month marks my third year with the firm, and I am still learning about the process. It’s one of the many reasons I suggest hiring an attorney for your VA disability claim.If you question your effective date, your best bet is to seek the help of a professional.

If you would like to know more about effective dates or would like to get a free case evaluation, give me a call. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. Fill out this form, and I’ll give you a call.

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