The effective date of VA disability is an extremely important date in your pursuit of VA benefits. The VA does not instantly decide any disability claims, and that means that every disabled veteran will receive some level of retroactive back pay. Typically, the VA compensates back to the day when you filed your claim. However, there can certainly be exceptions to that rule.
Effective Date of VA Disability: Day After Separation
In my case, I filed my VA claim while I was still on active duty. That meant my claim was effective the day after I separated from service. However, the VA does not award any payment for partial months. As a result, my disability payments did not start until the month after I separated. This will typically be the case for any veteran that files a claim on active duty.
In addition, the VA will use the day after separation if you file a claim with-in a year of separation. This can be a significant benefit if the military suddenly separates you, and you do not have enough time to file a claim on active duty. In addition, it also allows you extra time to assemble any needed evidence for your claim.
Effective Date of VA Disability (1+ Years)
What about veterans that have been out for more over one year? Your claim will typically be effective the day that you file a claim. This is regardless of how long it takes the VA to complete your claim. It can sometimes take years for the VA to complete a claim, and that is why you see the enormous deposit in the picture above. This is a veteran that waited several years for a final decision. It was worth the wait!
That is not a typical amount of back pay, but it shows why your effective date is so important. The current 100% compensation level for a single veteran is $3,332.06. Even six months of back pay at the 100% level is a lot of money. However, what happens if the VA makes a mistake in your claim?
Effective Date of Disability is WRONG! (CUE)
CUE (Clear and unmistakable error) is the VA’s politically correct way of saying “we screwed up.” The VA realizes it made a mistake, and they retroactively assign an effective date of VA disability to compensate. They use this when they initially deny a claim, but then an appeal proves they should have granted a rating. The effective date will end up being what is should have been all along.
Effective Date of VA Disability When There is A Change
Many veterans file multiple claims over several years, and these claims include secondary conditions. This is when the effective date can be very confusing.
Example- Joe Files on Active Duty:
Joe files a VA claim for back pain while still on active duty. He separates January 15, 2015. His effective date of VA disability will be January 16, 2015. However, he will not receive any compensation for the month of January. The compensation will start on February 1, 2015. In December 2015- the VA assigns a 20% rating for back pain. Joe is back paid for February through November. He then receives his December compensation in January 2016.
Claim 1+ Years After Service
In August 2016, Joe files a claim for sciatica secondary to his back pain. In January 2017, the VA assigns an additional 20% rating for sciatica. This brings Joe’s total rating to 36% using VA math. He benefits from rounding, and the VA assigns a total rating of 40%. His 40% rating is now effective August 2016. The VA will back pay him the at the 40% rate from August to January.
Effective Date of VA Disability Changed Via CUE
In March 2017, Joe files a claim for combat PTSD. The VA denies his claim, but he appeals through a Higher Level Review. Finally, in December 2018 the VA assigns Joe a stand alone 100% rating for combat PTSD. Joe’s effective date of VA disability is March of 2017 for his 100%. He will receive back pay from March 2017 to December 2018.
Effective Date of VA Disability: Joe Has 3!
Joe has three different effective dates on his claim. His 20%, 40%, and 100% ratings are all effective on different dates. In the short term, this is important for the amount of compensation. However, these dates are equally important for his eligibility for the “20 year rule” and DIC (Dependency and Indemnity) payments. Check out our videos for more information on why that matters to you (and your spouse!)
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