When a veteran files for disability benefits from the VA, it can take some time to complete. The VA processes a tremendous volume of cases, and there are many steps to the process, so you should start as soon as possible. By filing an “intent to file” (VA Form 21-0966 or call them directly) you initiate the process with very little effort on your part, and you have a full year to actually file your claim.
Submitting an intent to file is valuable because, in most situations, it sets the effective date for retroactive pay. It is a misconception that the VA will give a veteran back pay to the date of the injury or disability for which the veteran is filing. The calculation of the retroactive benefits date is determined by several factors, as follows:
- In most cases, your retroactive pay date will be the date you filed for VA disability compensation or the date you submitted your intent to file.
- If you filed within one year of discharge, the VA states that “the effective date can be as early as the day following separation.”
- If you have any conditions with a “presumptive service connection,” which is to say the VA assumes your condition is related to military service (such as known conditions caused by Agent Orange exposure), AND you make a medical claim for these presumptive conditions within one year of separation from active service, “the effective date is the date you first got your illness or injury.”
Note that the effective date begins with the time of your injury only in the case of a presumptive service connection disability that was filed within one year of separation from active service. Therefore, you should file as soon as you can, in order to move your effective date as close to the date of disability as possible.
It is critically important that you keep your filing current. If you initiated filing, or you submitted an intent to file, be sure to provide all the necessary information within 365 days or your filing will expire and you will have to begin the process over again. Your new effective date will now be the new filing, not the initial one. You could potentially lose significant benefits if you allow this to happen, so get whatever help you need to complete the filing on time.
If the VA denies your claim, appeal the ruling rather than reapply, because if you win on appeal, your back pay will begin at the initial filing date. We recommend that you seek the services of a certified veterans attorney because we know how the VA operates and we know the most common issues that cause a claim to be denied. We can help you create a strong case in your appeal in order to win the benefits you deserve, and we’ll make sure you collect the retroactive pay back to the time of your initial filing, or earlier, if possible.
At times, the VA will make a mistake on the effective date, such as in the cases of filing within one year of discharge or having a presumptive service connection. However, errors in retroactive pay date calculations most often occur when a veteran applies for increased disability due to the worsening of a condition, which is a more complicated calculation and depends on multiple factors. We have helped numerous veterans appeal the effective date of their retroactive pay and receive their appropriate back payments.
You deserve your full benefits. Contact us today at the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, Veterans Attorney. As veterans ourselves, it is our purpose and our pleasure to help disabled veterans like ourselves receive the full disability benefits they deserve for their service to our country.