Filing a claim for VA disability compensation benefits can certainly be confusing. Many aspects of the VA claims process can leave veterans confused and frustrated. One important component of this process is the effective date. The effective date determines the date from which compensation benefits are payable. This date is assigned once a disability rating is granted. This is vital to your claim because the further back the effective date, the more retroactive compensation you will receive.
A common question regarding effective dates is “will my benefits be paid back to when I left the service?” The answer to this is not one-sided. Every claim is different. Your effective date is based on the type of benefit you are applying for as well as the nature and circumstances of your claim.
It seems that it would make sense for the VA to pay a claimant their retroactive benefit as far back as their time in service, but the VA doesn’t seem to make much sense. Since there are different types of claims and everyone’s claim is different, varying effective dates is something that happens across the board.
Effective Dates for Direct Service Connection
An effective date for service connection for a disability that is directly linked to an injury or disease that originated or aggravated by service is the date that the VA receives a claim for benefits or the date the entitlement to benefits arose, whichever is later.
Of course, there is an exception. For claims that were filed within one year of separation from active military service, the effective date will be the day after separation.
The effective date for a reopened claim is the date the VA receives the reopened claim or the date the entitlement to benefits arose, whichever is later. This is why it is very important to understand the VA’s appeals process and the deadlines associated with g the appeals process.
Presumptive Service Connection
The effective date for a claim for service connection for a disability that is presumed to be related to military service will be the date the entitlement to benefits began if the claim has been received by the VA within one year of your release from active duty.
If the claim is received by the VA after one year of your release from active duty, the effective date of award is the date of the receipt of the claim or the date your entitlement to benefits began, whichever is later.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Claims
For DIC claims (claims based on a veteran’s death), if the death occurred after service and the claim is received within one year of the veteran’s death, the effective date will be the first day of the month in which the veteran died. If the death occurred after service and the claim is received after one year of the veteran’s death, the effective date is the date of receipt of the claim.
Clear and Unmistakable Error
If the VA finds a clear and unmistakable error (CUE) in a previous decision, the effective date of the new decision will be the date from which benefits would have been payable had there not been an error in the prior decision.
Increases in Disability Rating
The VA will increase the disability rating to the earliest date when a veteran can show that there was an increase in the disability. But, this happens only if the VA receives the claim for an increase in disability within one year from the date that the disability increased. Otherwise, the effective date will be the dare that the VA receives the claim for an increased rating.