According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) veterans who were injured or became ill while serving in the military often qualify for disability benefits. These benefits are paid monthly and are tax-free, and often apply to veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic illness, and other physical or mental conditions. It is not unusual for veterans to question whether the effective date assigned by the VA is correct, or how it was assigned. Those with questions about appealing the effective date of a VA claim may want to consider reaching out to Centonzio Law, PLLC at (800) 342-2727 today. Javier Centonzio is a veteran and understands the unique challenges veterans face when attempting to appeal VA decisions.
Effective Dates For VA Claims
Many veterans are not certain of the actual effective date of their VA claim. The Veterans Administration assigns a date to a veteran’s claim that, if approved, will pay retroactive benefits to that date. Some veterans assume the effective date is the date they submit a claim, however it is the date the claim is received by the VA. For instance, a veteran may submit a claim on August 3, 2021, and the VA receives it on August 7, 2021. August 7 would be the effective date. The effective date is critical as it has a huge impact on the dollar amount of retroactive benefits. Unfortunately for many veterans, errors are made that result in effective dates that are incorrect. Retroactive benefits are paid in a lump sum, which can make a big impact on the life of a veteran.
How Retroactive Benefits Are Determined
Retroactive benefits are essentially back pay which is determined by one of two potential effective dates:
- The date the VA claim was filed
- The date the disability becomes apparent or increases
In most cases the effective date is the date the VA claim was filed. There are countless instances in which a veteran may file a VA claim and not receive benefits for years. For instance, a veteran may file a claim for a back disability related to military service on February 3, 2013, which is ultimately denied on March 10, 2015, by the regional office. The VA claim is appealed, and remanded on April 3, 2018 by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Finally, the VA claim is granted two years later in 2020 by the regional office. Roughly seven years have passed since the initial claim was filed. Retroactive benefits are also determined by the level of disability which may be 30%, 50%, or any other percentage based on a physician’s determination on the extent to which a disability impacts the veteran.
Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU)
There are veterans whose military service-related disabilities prevent them from working or participating in gainful employment. Even when a veteran is not at a 100% scheduler rating, that veteran may be eligible for VA benefits referred to as “total disability on the basis of individual unemployability,” or TDIU. According to VetsFirst a veteran’s inability to engage in substantially gainful employment is a primary issue in TDIU claims. The federal government determines the annual poverty level, which is the amount that must be paid to a veteran who is able to engage in substantially gainful employment. Veterans must meet certain requirements as outlined below to qualify for TDIU benefits:
- A veteran’s service-related condition must be schedular rated at a minimum of 60% when there is a single related condition
- When the veteran has a minimum of two service-related conditions, one must be rated at 40% or greater and the combined schedular rate 70% or higher
- In either of the above, a veteran’s service-related conditions must be the cause of unemployability
Every VA claim for disability is revied by the Veteran’s Administration for TDIU, however it is recommended that veterans submit a specific claim for this benefit. Those with concerns or in need of legal guidance may want to consider scheduling a consultation with Centonzio Law, PLLC.
Determining The Correct Effective Date
It would not seem as though determining an effective date of a VA claim is difficult, but it is not always clear and straightforward. While it may be as easy as the date a VA claim was received by the VA, there may be issues with the effective date such as:
- A medical examination date may be incorrectly used by the VA rather than the date the claim was received
- The VA used the date a claim was appealed rather than the date received
- The VA claim is reopened, causing the effective date to be confusing for the veteran – the date the claim is reopened is the effective date
- Changes in VA law
- Disability benefits were applied for within a year of leaving the service – effective date is the day after leaving military service in this case
A veteran who does not agree with the effective date of their VA claim may want to consider visiting with an attorney who is skilled and experienced in veterans’ disability matters.
Appealing The Effective Date Of A VA Claim
Veterans may request a higher-level review when questioning the effective date of a claim. This is a review performed by a senior VA claims adjudicator who is more experienced in veterans’ disabilities and claims. Veterans do not have to submit additional evidence for this review. When a claim is continually denied, it may be necessary to appeal up to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Appealing an effective date can seem complex, however an attorney may be able to help make the process simpler and less stressful.
Consider Scheduling A Consultation With Centonzio Law, PLLC
Veterans face difficult challenges long after they have left military service. From debilitating back injuries to paralysis and PTSD, veterans deserve to be compensated for physical or mental injuries they suffered in their duty to our country. Those who need assistance appealing the effective date of a VA claim may want to consider visiting with Centonzio Law, PLLC at (800) 342-2727 today.