Effective Dates: The Date VA Received the Claim or the Date Entitlement Arose

The general rule for effective dates is the date the VA received the claim, or the date entitlement arose, whichever is later. 38 C.F.R. § 3.400 (2013).

A claim is defined as “a formal or informal communication in writing requesting a determination of entitlement or evidencing a belief in entitlement, to a benefit.” 38 C.F.R. § 3.1(p) (2013). “Any communication or action, indicating an intent to apply for one or more benefits . . . from a claimant . . . may be considered an informal claim. Such informal claim must identify the benefit sought.” 38 C.F.R.§ 3.155 (2013). The claim must be in writing. 38 C.F.R. 3.1(p).

Entitlement Date

The date entitlement arose is the initial date on which veteran satisfied all of the substantive criteria for entitlement to the benefit, as determined from a review of all the evidence. In other words, the date the disability first manifested and the date entitlement arose to benefits was authorized by law and regulation.

The date of claim is used for the effective date when veteran has the disability already and can prove that such disability exists and is related to his or her military service. For example, if a veteran submits a claim for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) and is properly denied by the regional office due to lack of evidence, but veteran appeals to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) and submits critical evidence indicating veteran satisfied requirements for service connection at the time he filed the claim, the date the claim was received is the effective date for his VA disability benefits.

However, if the critical evidence shows veteran did not meet all the requirements for PTSD and TBI at the time of his claim but later met the requirements after the time the claim was filed and received, the date entitlement arose, and therefore the effective date, would be after VA received the claim. This is because the date entitlement arose is “later” than the date VA received the claim.