A question we hear quite often from clients is, “How much can I get for my VA disability?” The answer to this question, like most legal answers, is: it depends. Several different factors go into determining how much you can get for your VA disability. If you have already received a VA rating, our 2018 VA disability rates table can show you the payments you are entitled to. If you haven’t yet received your rating decision, it is important to first understand what is needed to receive VA disability payments.
To receive VA payments, you must first meet the requirements of the VA. To be eligible, you must have a service-connected disability, a discharge that is not Other Than Honorable, and a diagnosed disability.
First, in order to be eligible for VA compensation, you must have a “service-connected disability.” This means that you have a condition/injury/disease that occurred “during active service.” Your “condition” may have either been caused by your military service, happened during your military service but not directly caused by your military service (i.e. a car wreck off base), or a prior condition that was exacerbated during service.
Next, your service period must have been declared as something not Other Than Honorable (OTH). If you have OTH as your exit status, you are not eligible for disability benefits. You can attempt to get this changed, but there are restrictions and you must show why your exit status should be changed.
Lastly, you must get your condition diagnosed, and it must be deemed as a disability that occurred during service. The disability must also have a current diagnosis. With this in mind, it is important to get a recent diagnosis of your disability and have a medical professional show that it was more probable than not that the disability occurred/worsened in service.
Having touched on what is needed to receive disability benefits, it is also important to look at what date the VA will begin your payments from when determining how much you you will get for your VA disability. The date that payments should have begun prior to you receiving disability benefits is known as the effective date, and any lump-sum payment back to that date is known as back pay.
Now, let’s say that you get out on August 27, 2018 and you apply for disability benefits on November 1, 2018. Since you applied for disability benefits within one year of getting out of service, your “effective date” (or date that you will be back paid to) will be the day after your end of obligated service: August 28, 2018.
However, if you, like a number of other Veterans, wait until over a year after your discharge to apply for benefits, your benefits back pay date will be the date that your disability claim was received by the VA. There are some exceptions to this rule (including Clear and Unmistakable Errors by the VA), but this is the most common type of “back pay” scenario.
As mentioned before, if the VA committed a Clear and Unmistakable Error (CUE), your effective date will be different. In a claim where CUE was committed your effective date will be back paid to the original claim date. Here is an example of how that works: you get out of the service in 1995. You filed a claim in January 1997 and you were denied. But, if the VA committed CUE, and you file an appeal in 2018 and the VA finds that it did in fact commit CUE, your effective date (and back pay date) is January 1997.
Now, the level of compensation you receive is based upon your “combined” disability percentage, meaning that your combined disabilities are compensated for based upon the rates at the times you were disabled. These rates change periodically and are different based upon whether you have any “dependents” (spouse, children under 18 that live with you, adult children that are disabled and you care for, parents that are disabled and you care for, and a few other cases) and are capable of changing over time. Check out our 2018 VA disability rates table to learn more.
If you or somebody you know is struggling to receive their due compensation from the VA for a disability that occurred in service, we may be able to help. Our team of attorneys have experience appealing VA claims and have helped thousands of Veterans increase their VA disability rating. Contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Our monthly newsletter features about important and up-to-date veterans' law news, keeping you informed about the changes that matter.