The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pays benefits to veterans whose disabilities are service-connected, meaning injuries or illnesses linked to military service. The process of applying for and receiving VA disability benefits can often be a lengthy one. It can take several months or years before a veteran’s claim will be approved.
After a claim is approved, however, the veteran could be entitled to retroactive benefits for the period before they were approved. In most cases, the effective date that is assigned to a claim will determine how much in back pay a veteran is owed.
If you have applied for and are receiving VA disability benefits, then you should have received retroactive payment to the effective date of the claim.
Berry Law Firm has been serving veterans nationwide since 1965. Our team is committed to providing legal representation for veterans appealing VA decisions. Call us or contact us online to receive a free case evaluation.
The VA states that when there is a direct service connection, the effective date for a disability that was caused or worsened by military service is the later of the date the VA receives your application or the date the veteran first sustained the illness or injury.
When the VA receives an application within one year of the day the veteran left active service, the effective date can be as early as the day following separation.
When the VA believes a disability is related to a veteran’s military service and receives the veteran’s claim within one year of the veteran’s separation from active service, the effective date will be the date they first suffered their illness or injury. If the claim is received more than one year after their separation from active service, the effective date will be the later of the date the VA received claim or the date the veteran first got their illness or injury.
Back pay varies depending on the effective date of a claim and the amount of monthly benefits a veteran is entitled to receive. A veteran can be entitled to back pay benefits for the entire time between their effective date and the date their application was approved.
A change in a veteran’s disability rating can also significantly impact back pay, and worsening conditions can result in staged ratings that can make back pay more challenging to calculate. It may also be possible for the VA to seek a reduction in benefits when a veteran’s condition improves such that the disability rating is lowered.
While a veteran’s effective date commonly determines back pay from the VA, one other way that back pay may be provided is if the United States Congress changes the laws governing VA disability. When the Veteran Affairs Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) is changed, it can also lead to back pay claims when particular rating conditions are changed.
For example, if Congress passes a law changing the disability rating of a particular condition to a higher percentage and states that the change is retroactive, veterans with that condition could be entitled to back pay for the difference between what they were paid and what they should have been paid under the new rating.
Do you have a disability claim that has been denied or rated too low by the VA? Our team at Berry Law may be able to help.
Our firm was founded in 1965 by John S. Berry Sr., a Vietnam War veteran and Bronze Star recipient. We are dedicated to providing effective legal representation to Veterans appealing a VA decision. If you or somebody you know has been denied disability benefits by the VA, contact Berry Law today to schedule your free case evaluation.
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