If you receive a disability rating from the VA, you will likely receive some retroactive benefits or back pay. Retroactive benefits are paid in a lump sum after the grant of benefits. Your regular benefits will then be distributed to you on a monthly basis.
You can apply for disability any time – there is no “statute of limitations” on VA disability. Nevertheless, the sooner you file after leaving the service the better your case may be because it will be easier to collect records and testimonies to support your claim. It may also affect how far back your back pay will go.
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.
- 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.”
It is worth repeating because there is a lot of confusion on this point – the VA will not give back pay to the time your disability began, except in the specific case of a “presumptive condition” when you file within 365 days of discharge.
Retroactive benefits will also come into play if you want to increase your disability rating. Your health is not static and your condition could worsen; your disability rating and thus your compensation should be increased if your condition deteriorates. Again, the date of your retroactive benefits would likely be calculated from the date you file your increased-rating claim. However, if you have medical evidence that predates your claim, you could receive back pay starting at the date of the medical evidence proving your worsened condition.
If you have any questions about your back pay, if you need to appeal a VA ruling, or if you want to file an increased-rating claim, contact us here at The Law Office of Robert B. Goss. We are veterans who have personal experience working with the VA and we are dedicated to helping you navigate the process and get the compensation you deserve.