VA disability provides monthly cash payments to veterans who are disabled due to an injury or disease that incurred during their service. It is not uncommon for veterans to need to appeal a decision of the VA on disability. Often appeals relate to whether the VA has provided a lower percentage rating than the veteran deserves, and thus causes a lower monthly benefit amount. Another issue that should be considered when appealing a VA disability claim is whether the VA used the correct effective date. Getting the right effective date can result in thousands of more dollars to the veteran.
The effective date is the date that the VA uses in computing the back payments owed. The general rule is that the effective date is the later of the date the veteran was injured or the date the application for benefits is filed. If the veteran has filed more than one claim on the same disability, the effective date is the date the last claim was filed.
There are several exceptions to the rule that the effective date is controlled by the date the last application was filed. Some examples of when earlier effective dates are allowed are:
- If the veteran was injured during service and files a claim within one year of discharge, the effective date will be the date of discharge.
- If a new claim is filed and the VA is shown to have denied a previous claim in clear unmistakeable error, the effective date will be the date the first claim was filed.
- If a veteran files a claim for increased benefits within a year of when the disability became more severe, the effective date will be when the disability became more severe.
An attorney accredited with the VA can provide assistance on obtaining an earlier effective date and potentially thousands in back payments.