There is no time limit to file a disability claim. In some cases, a veteran may not notice symptoms of a disability until long after they have returned home. Other disabilities may start as minor problems, only to continue to worsen over time until they become serious conditions.
However, this does not mean you should wait to file a claim. There are a number of advantages to filing a claim as soon as possible.
First, you may be able to get an earlier effective date. The effective date is the date you will begin eligibility for benefits, and it is generally the date the VA receives your claim. The sooner you file your claim, the earlier your effective date. If you file your claim within one year of separation from service, your effective date is the day after separation.
Second, the evidence may be easier to gather. If you wait, you may have to search a little more to find the records you will need to prove your claim, and your memory of what caused your disability may be little less clear.
For these reasons, it’s advised that veterans file their claims as soon as possible. There are two programs that allow veterans to submit claims prior to discharge, and active duty service members should consider the benefits of using one these programs.
BDD allows a service member to submit a disability claim 60 to 180 days prior to separation from service. The VA’s goal is to get eligible service members their disability benefits within 60 days of discharge.
To be eligible for BDD, you must have a known separation date that is 60 to 180 days away. You must complete all phases of the medical separation process at your point of separation, and you must submit all service treatment records to the VA at the time you submit your claim.
By getting examined before you leave your installation, the BDD process typically works faster than the normal VA claims process.
If you have less than 60 days left before separation, you cannot use the BDD program, but you may be eligible for the Quick Start program.
Quick Start Program
The Quick Start program’s requirements are the same as the BDD program, but is used for service members with less than 60 days left before separation from service. Quick Start applications are processed at their own dedicated facilities, and are typically handled faster than regular VA claims.
Even if you are not eligible for either of these programs, or have been separated from service for years or decades, you can still apply for VA benefits. Your claim may take slightly longer, but you are still entitled to the same benefits as all other veterans.
For help appealing your VA claim, contact the veterans law firm of Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. With over 25 years of experience, we understand veterans law and how to help veterans win their appeals. Contact us for a no-cost case evaluation.