VA Disability Grant Effective Date
Once the VA grants service connection, it must determine the date from which payment of the increased rating should begin. The date awarded is known as the effective date.
Can veterans challenge the disability effective date?
In certain circumstances, veterans can challenge the effective date assigned by the VA to their disability. Sometimes, the VA owes decades worth of retroactive benefits. The VA may owe benefits if it failed to recognize that a claimant filed a claim for a particular benefit. Another possibility: the VA’s decision denying the claim did not become final because the RO did not provide information or material critical to the appellant process.
How does the VA assign the effective date of service connection?
Generally, the date of service connection will be the date when the veteran filed his or her claim. It seems simple but, in certain circumstances, determining the correct effective date can be very complicated.
The general effective date governing rule: the date will be effective from when the VA received the claim or when the entitlement to the benefit arose, whichever is later. 38 C.F.R. § 3.400 (2009). With reopen claims, the general rule is that the effective date is the date the VA received the reopened claim or the date the benefit arose, whichever is later.
Things get tricky when a veteran files a claim that is not fully developed or files for a different condition. For example, if a veteran files a claim without an official diagnosis. If a diagnosis is later confirmed, the VA may say that the date the benefit entitlement arose is actually the diagnosis date.
Another example: if a veteran files a claim for PTSD but he or she really suffers from depression. In this case, the veteran should argue that depression is within the breath of the PTSD claim. Thus, the service connection effective date for depression should be the date when he or she filed the PTSD claim.
How can veterans receive an earlier effective date?
The VA may grant an earlier effective date than the general rule in the following circumstances:
Claims based upon clear and unmistakable error.
If this type of claim succeeds, the effective date will be the date that would have been assigned if a previous final decision had been granted.
Disability compensation claims received within one year of discharge from military service.
Generally, with these claims, the effective date will be the date after discharged, assuming the disability existed on the date after discharge from service.
Death compensation claims received within one year of the veteran’s death.
Generally, the effective date will be the first day of the month in which the veteran died.
Claims for an increased veterans disability rating.
Generally, it will be the date the claim was received. Or, the date that the evidence showed the veteran became entitled to a higher disability rating, whichever is later. However, the effective date for an award of a rating increase may date back one year prior to the date of a claim for an increase if “it is ascertainable that an increase in disability had occurred” within this time frame.
Because it can be difficult to establish the correct effective date, it is best to speak to an experienced attorney.
What can you do if you disagree with the effective date assigned by the VA?
First, speak to an attorney experienced in veterans law to discuss why you believe you are entitled to an earlier effective date. You and your attorney can decide whether your claim meets one of the exceptions, or whether there are factors that may allow for you to be eligible for an earlier effective date. If you received a rating decision within the last year and disagree with the effective date, contact us at 1-877-838-1010. Our experienced veterans benefits attorneys will be happy to provide you with a free case evaluation.