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 its backlog of disability compensation claims, the VA can often take months or years to grant benefits. The longer the VA takes to decide your claim, the more back pay it owes you to compensate you all the way back to your effective date.
An effective date is the start date the VA uses to begin payments. The 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).
It is uncommon for VA to grant benefits before either of those dates. However, there are a few rare circumstances for which the VA will grant an earlier effective date. Examples include requests for revision based on a “clear and unmistakable error” (CUE), Nehmer claims, and recently discharged service members who apply within a year of discharge.
Two common misconceptions about VA back pay are that the VA will pay veterans all the way back to the date of the injury or event in service, or, that the VA will pay veterans all the way back to the date of their discharge. The VA does not consider the date of an event or injury to be an effective date for those who apply for disability compensation after they have separated from service. Furthermore, the 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.
How Much Back Pay Will I Get?
The amount of back pay a veteran will receive depends on the effective date of their claim, and the disability rating they are granted from the VA. As discussed, a veteran’s effective date is the date of their claim for benefits, or the date entitlement arose. The other factor that determines back pay amount is the disability rating granted by VA. Generally, the higher the rating, the more back pay the VA owes you.
For instance, if a veteran is not receiving any disability compensation from VA when they submit a claim for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and are then granted 100% for PTSD by VA, their back pay would have to cover the gap from 0% to 100%. This veteran’s back pay will amount to more money than a veteran who is rated at 90% and then is increased to 100%, assuming these veterans have the same effective date.
The VA often assigns incorrect effective dates, impacting the amount of back pay a veteran receives. If you believe you are owed more money from the VA, our office may be able to help.