How to Use VA Effective Dates to Your Advantage

The effective date in a disability claim determines when the VA starts paying back pay. The general rule is that the effective date is either the day the VA receives your application or the day you became entitled to the benefit.

Sometimes, it is possible to get an earlier effective date. This can be due to new evidence, CUE, or retroactive changes in law.

Look for New and Material Evidence

The date your disability benefits become effective significantly affects the back pay you receive. This is especially true with Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits.

The VA assigns an effective date to your TDIU claim based on receipt or eligibility. This can vary, however, when it comes to claims for an increase in your rating.

For a claim for an increased disability rating, the VA will consider new and material evidence in your favor. For something to qualify as new and material, it must be relevant and have yet to be submitted. Additionally, it must be new and official. This could include new medical records, service records, or other documents that you haven’t previously submitted. The most important thing to remember is that the VA does not follow strict adversarial rules when evaluating evidence in non-adversary proceedings.

Look for Clear and Unmistakable Errors.

An effective date is vital to a veteran’s claim for disability compensation. It determines when the VA should have started paying the veteran for his disabling injuries and conditions. Learn about VA effective date and the impact of wrong effective dates, which can cost a veteran months or even years of unpaid monthly payments. And all those missed payments add up to what’s called back pay. 

The VA’s effective dates rules apply to service connection and increased rating claims. When VA awards a new rating decision, it often assigns a new effective date. This is true regardless of whether the new evidence comes from a request for a reopen/supplemental claim or a notice of disagreement filed during the one-year appeal period after a final decision.

However, with few exceptions, once a veteran gets a rating decision from the VA decision that becomes final after one year, the effective date can only be changed by filing a motion for revision citing a clear and unmistakable error (CUE). This is a complex claim to win and is typically reserved for a few cases involving the most egregious errors.

Look for Presumptive Service Connection

Sometimes, a veteran can be granted disability benefits based on presumptive service connection. This type of service connection can apply to certain medical conditions, and it only requires that a veteran apply within one year of leaving the military.

The day that a veteran starts receiving monthly compensation payments is called their effective date. A wrong effective date can cost a veteran years of back pay, so it is essential to get the right one.

When it comes to reopening or supplemental claims, the effective date is usually the date that the VA receives the request. But, if the reopening or supplemental claim is based on new and material evidence—including new and official records—then the effective date may be earlier. This is known as a clear and unmistakable error (CUE). However, this isn’t something that every veteran can benefit from. Seek help from an experienced VA attorney to learn more about how to use CUEs to your advantage.

Look for Special Rules

When the VA awards your disability benefits, it establishes an effective date, which can affect how much back pay you receive. However, some exceptions can dramatically impact your effective date.

Generally, your effective date will be when the VA received your claim or when you first became eligible for benefits (VA calls this the date “entitlement arose”). However, there are some important exceptions to this rule.

For example, if you are a recently discharged veteran and file your claim within one year of your discharge, the VA can award you an effective date as early as the day after your discharge.

Also, suppose the VA admits to making a clear and unmistakable error in a previous decision. In that case, your effective date will be what it would have been if the original decision did not contain an error. This powerful exception can help you get the highest amount of back pay possible.