As anyone who has ever applied for veterans’ benefits can attest, the VA can take a long time to approve claims. Rejected claims and appeals can also result in delays, leaving veterans to wait for urgently needed compensation. If a claim is ultimately approved, however, the veteran won’t miss out on back pay. A Louisiana veterans’ disability attorney takes a close look at how this works.
If your VA benefits claim has been denied, contact us today. Our team at Ascend Disability Lawyers helps clients nationwide obtain VA disability.
What Is the Effective Date of a VA Benefits Claim?
The VA must pay a veteran all the way back to the effective date of an approved benefits claim. This is regardless of when the VA finally decides to grant the veteran his or her benefits. But what constitutes an effective date? It is the start date of benefits and is usually based on when the VA receives the claim.
However, it can be earlier than this. For instance, suppose you file for benefits within one year of discharge from service. In this case, the effective date would be the date you were discharged. You can also receive an earlier date in the event of a “clear and unmistakable error.”
If your claim for an increased rating is granted, the date the VA received it is usually the effective date. But once again, this date can also be pushed back even earlier. Assume, for example, that medical evidence shows your condition worsened prior to submitting a claim for an increased rating. In this case, the effective date of the claim should be when the medical evidence reflects the worsened condition.
Finally, there are cases in which the medical evidence indicates a veteran’s disability has improved. These usually prompt the VA to propose a disability rating reduction. The effective date of this reduction will either be:
- The date that medical evidence shows genuine improvement; or
- The date of the reduction decision.
Ask an experienced Louisiana VA benefits lawyer for more information about the effective date in your case.
What if a Condition Worsens During the Appeals Process?
VA appeals can take months and even years in some cases. It is likely that a disability will worsen, perhaps significantly, during the pendency of the appeal. This is where a staged rating becomes important. In determining back pay, the VA will look at how the severity of the condition has developed over time.
If a veteran’s condition got worse while the claim was being decided, back pay will track that worsening condition. This can be a complex calculation since a disabling condition can fluctuate with time. Consult a knowledgeable veterans’ disability lawyer for more information.
How Much Back Pay Can I Receive?
The amount of back pay will depend on the effective date of the claim, making this a critical factor. Another relevant factor is the final disability rating that the veteran receives.
Finally, to calculate back pay over the course of several years, the VA relies upon its historical compensation rate tables. These compensation rates may change each year pursuant to the cost of living adjustment established by the Social Security Administration.
You may have questions about any or all of these elements and how they affect your monthly benefits payment. We urge you to speak with a Louisiana veterans’ benefits attorney if you have concerns about these.
Ensuring You Receive the VA Benefits You Deserve
Delays, compensation tables, and disability rating adjustments can be overwhelming and confusing. But having dedicated legal counsel by your side can take the guesswork out of your veterans’ benefits. Let us help ensure you receive the VA benefits that you are entitled to under the law.