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Veterans Law

When Will I Get My VA Disability Back Pay?

October 9, 2019
dim lit black and white photo man holding va disability back pay up to left eye

What is VA Disability Back Pay?

 VA disability back pay is the monies owed to veterans from the effective date of their claim, to the date they were granted those benefits.  Due to the backlog of disability compensation claims and appeals, VA can often take months or years to grant benefits.  Generally speaking, the longer VA takes to decide your claim, the more backpay it owes you in order to compensate you all the way back to your effective date.

What Are Effective Dates?

 An effective date is the start date that VA uses to begin payments.  VA grants effective dates based on either the date it received the veteran’s claim, or the date that entitlement arose (e.g. date a veteran was diagnosed with the condition they are claiming).

Common Misconceptions About VA Back Pay

 Common misconceptions about VA back pay include the following:

  • VA will pay veterans all the way back to the date of the injury or event in service; and
  • VA will pay veterans all the way back to the date of their discharge.

VA does not consider the date of an event or injury as the effective date for those who apply for disability compensation after they have separated from service.  Furthermore, VA will only grant benefits back to the date of discharge for service members who apply for benefits within a year of their military discharge.  As mentioned above, the effective date is most often the same date that VA received the veteran’s claim.

How Much Back Pay Will I Receive?

 The amount of back pay a veteran will receive depends on the effective date of their claim, and the disability rating that they are granted from VA.  Typically, the higher the disability rating, the more back pay VA owes you.  To calculate a veteran’s back pay over the course of multiple years, VA looks to its historical compensation rate tables.  VA disability compensation rates may change each year pursuant to the Cost of Living Adjustment set forth by the Social Security Administration.  Veterans receiving back pay are paid the compensation amounts respective to each year.  For example, a single veteran with no dependents rated at 50% would receive $770 per month in 2010 and $855.41 per month in 2018.  Importantly, there is no limit to the amount of back pay a veteran can receive.

Calculating VA Back Pay Using the VA Disability Retro Calculator

Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD’s VA disability retro calculator is designed to help veterans estimate the amount of VA disability back pay they might be due based on the factors described above.  The VA disability retro calculator calculates your back pay by asking several straightforward questions.  Veterans simply type in the answers to get an immediate estimate.  If you recently received a grant resulting in VA disability back pay, you may want to use the calculator to get an idea of how much money you will receive.

 Receiving VA Disability Back Pay

VA back pay is paid to the veteran all at once in one lump sum following the grant of benefits.  This is different from all other benefits awarded in connection with the veteran’s claim as those are referred to as future benefits, paid on a monthly basis.  VA maintains that veterans should receive VA back pay within 15 days of the decision granting the retroactive benefits either through direct deposit or a check.  However, it is not uncommon for VA to take several months to issue back pay and retroactive benefits.  Therefore, it may be beneficial to work with a veterans disability lawyer in order to ensure you receive your VA back pay in a timely manner.