To maximize your potential VA disability compensation back pay for your service-connected condition(s), Effective Date is one of the most important terms for you to know and understand. The reason the Effective Date is so important is because it is the date the VA uses to calculate and determine any back pay to which you may be entitled. Following is an explanation of the most common ways veterans obtain their Effective Dates and how it could affect you.
The vast majority of veterans secure their Effective Date when they file their initial claim for VA disability compensation. Generally, in this situation, the Effective Date is the date the VA receives the claim. If the VA receives a claim for VA disability compensation within one year of release from active duty, the Effective Date is the day following separation. In rare circumstances, the Effective Date may be the date the entitlement arose (the date the condition was shown to exist by medical evidence) when such date is later than the date the claim was received by the VA. The final common way that veterans obtain their Effective Date is when they reopen a claim. The Effective Date of a reopened claim is the date the VA receives the claim or date the entitlement arose, whichever is later.
How does this apply to you? First, generally the sooner you file your claim for VA disability compensation the better. That doesn’t mean to go off half-cocked and file a claim just to get the back pay clock running. You should take the time to file a comprehensive, complete claim for all conditions you believe to be service connected. Otherwise, you could end up filing multiple claims that do not run concurrently which just gives the VA yet another opportunity to become confused and not properly adjudicate all your claims. Second, if you have received a decision from the VA regarding your initial claim filing with which you disagree, be sure to file an appeal within ONE YEAR from the date of the decision to preserve your original Effective Date (usually when you initially filed the claim). Otherwise, if you miss the one year appeal deadline, you will have to reopen your claim and your Effective Date will then be the date the VA receives your request to reopen your claim. Then, if you are eventually awarded back pay, the VA will only calculate your back pay to the date you reopened your claim rather than when you initially filed your claim. By filing your appeal within the one year deadline, if you are later awarded back pay, the VA will calculate your back pay to the date you initially filed the claim ultimately resulting in considerably more money in your pocket – money to which you are entitled.
If you have questions about filing your claim or appeal and your Effective Date, please call or contact Ms. Brandy Neill White, Esq. at MJA to arrange your free initial consultation. (Information current as of 2016 April 27.)