A Common Issue with Effective Dates for VA Disability Claims

Veterans frequently contact our office regarding effective dates for their claims. They have many questions about how the effective date was assigned, and whether or not the VA made an error when assigning their effective date. The effective date is important in a VA disability claim as it is the date the VA will pay back to when a claim is granted. For example, if a claim has an effective date of May 1st, 2015, that isn’t granted until May 1st, 2016, the Veteran is entitled to compensation for the year that passed since the effective date.

Generally speaking, the effective date will be the date the VA received the claim or the date that entitlement arose, whichever is later. Additionally, if a claim is filed within a year of the Veteran’s discharge, the effective date would be the day after discharge. However, the VA does not consistently hold to these rules.

Common VA Mistakes for Effective Dates

There are times when the VA will make an error when assigning an effective date for either service connection or an increased evaluation. Occasionally, we notice that the VA will use the date of a medical examination as the effective date instead of the date the claim was received by the VA. While this may seem like a minor error, Veterans who simply accept the date of a VA medical examination as the effective date could be losing out on compensation they are entitled to. This is because the date evidence is submitted or the date of the existence of evidence does not determine the effective date of a VA disability claim. As mentioned before, the effective date is assigned based on when the VA receives the claim or the date entitlement arose, whichever comes later.

Effective Dates and Creation of Evidence

Court rulings have sided with Veterans regarding effective dates for claims. McGrath v. Gober, 14 Vet. App. 28, 35 (2000) found that the date evidence was submitted or the date of the creation of evidence does not determine the effective date of a disability. It was determined that the effective date shall be set to the date the disability manifested itself. So, when evidence is submitted or created does not impact a Veterans effective date. For this reason, medical examinations play no role in determining an effective date.

If a Veteran files for service connection or an increased evaluation, the VA may wait months or even years before providing a VA examination. If the VA then grants the Veteran service connection and gives them an effective date that matches the date of the VA medical examination, the VA has avoided compensating the Veteran for the period between filing and the examination. Such decisions can be challenged and can result in the VA granting the Veteran an earlier effective date and additional backpay awards.

Veterans Disability Lawyers

At Berry Law, we are committed to fighting on behalf of Veterans. As a team founded by a Vietnam Veteran, it is our mission to ensure Veterans receive the disability benefits they’re entitled to. If you have been denied disability benefits or were given an incorrect effective date, we may be able to help. Contact Berry Law today to schedule a free case evaluation.