How the VA Handles Back Pay

How the VA Handles Back Pay

So you’ve had your claim approved but it’s been some time since you first filed for your disability benefits. The question now is, do you get back pay? And how far back will it go?

The answer to the first question is, yes, you will receive back pay determined by how long the process of having your claim accepted has taken. What to expect from that back pay, however, depends on a number of factors.

The Effective Date of Back Pay

When the VA approves a claim to give you compensation benefits they will then determine an effective date. This is the starting date they will use to determine how much money they currently owe you.

Usually, the effective date is determined to be the day that you opened your intent to file. Very rarely will the VA use a date outside of these criteria. In most cases where an effective date is granted earlier, it’s because a request was granted that determines a clear and unmistakable error. 

Also, if you made your claim within a year of your discharge from service, you may receive benefits from the date of your discharge. 

A Common Mistake

Often it is believed that the VA will grant back pay all the way to the date of the veteran’s injury or the event to which the disability is considered to have begun. This is a common misconception. The VA will not consider these to be effective dates in any circumstance. 

Calculating Back Pay

Multiple factors are considered when determining how much back pay you will receive, including what changes have occurred in your life from the effective date until the date of the rating decision. The main factors taken into consideration are:

  • Did you have a previous disability rating?
  • Did the number of dependents in your household change?
  • How far back is the determined effective date?

If you had already been receiving benefits from a previous rating, the difference between what you were already paid and your new rating would need to be determined. Having a child, having a child grow into an adult, getting married or divorced are also factors that will have to be adjusted for. Lastly, the effective date might have occurred in a different year, which means that the yearly cost of living adjustment will have to be calculated into the back pay. 

After opening your intent to file, it is critical that you understand when your back pay will be calculated from. The VA does not award partial months for backpay, so an effective date of 9/10/19 means pay starts Oct 1, 2019, going forward. This is why it’s crucial to keep a current intent to file, even if you don’t know when you’ll file or re-file. Without it you could be missing out on months of backpay.

All of these adjustments can lead up to hundreds of extra dollars disbursed to you, so make sure that they consider all factors. This is why it is important that you keep your own records, in order to keep the VA accountable should they make any mistakes. 

Back Pay for Law Changes

Occasionally Congress passes a law governing VA Disability, which can affect the benefits veterans are set to receive. When this happens Congress will determine an effective date, in which case all qualifying veterans will receive back pay for the difference in their increased benefits from the time of the effective date until the current day.

When Can You Expect to Receive Your Back Pay?

This is yet another issue that can vary depending on a number of factors. You will be awarded your back pay as soon as your claim is approved. 

Often the VA will issue your back pay quickly, usually within a matter of months from the approval of your claim. Sometimes, however, there are unexpected delays. 

Other delays can occur if you file an appeal. Remember, the VA has been dealing with an enormous backlog of claims for many years now, so the smallest changes can affect the disbursement of your money. 

Conclusion

The VA has done a fair job of making sure veterans get any compensation benefits they may have missed out on because of a long claims process. However, these things can take time. 

Rest assured, so long as you have an approved claim you are entitled to receive back pay and the VA does hold to its obligation to get it to you. Have more questions on back pay and what that means for your claim? Check out the experts here. Or subscribe to our YouTube channel for daily videos over all things VA Claims.

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