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Retroactive Benefits

Veterans regularly call Bergmann & Moore and ask questions about retroactive payments, commonly called “retro” or “back pay.”

The bottom line up front: When the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) sends you a rating decision, you should carefully review it in order to make sure VA set the correct effective date for your disability benefits.

 

Effective Date

The effective date of your claim is important because it sets the start date of when VA begins paying disability compensation or pension. As a general guideline, the effective date is usually the date a claim was filed.

For example, in most cases, if you filed your claim on January 1, 2017, and VA granted your claim on August 5, 2017, then your effective date would usually be January 1, 2017. VA would be required to pay retroactive benefits for the period between January and August, and then make monthly payments thereafter based on your percentage rating and dependents.

 

Effective Date Exceptions

However, in other situations, there are complex rules and exceptions for VA effective dates. This is why it is important for you to seek professional assistance if you believe VA made a mistake setting your effective date. Because VA claims processors are sometimes rushed or not well trained, VA often makes errors when setting the effective date.

For more details about VA’s complicated rules for establishing the effective date, please visit VA’s web site.

Example #1: Claims Filed Within One Year of Discharge

If you filed a claim within one year of your discharge from active duty, then VA is supposed to set the effective date as the day after your discharge. Here’s how it should work:

  • Active duty discharge date: December 31, 1999

  • Claim filed date: December 15, 2000, within one year of discharge

  • Correct effective date: January 1, 2000, the day after your discharge

At Bergmann & Moore, we have seen many examples where VA incorrectly set an effective date as December 15, 2000, the date of the Veteran’s claim.

For this example, VA’s incorrect effective date may have deprived the Veteran of earned benefits. If the Veteran was single, had no children, and was rated 100 percent, then VA’s error may have resulted in a shortage of tens of thousands of dollars in earned disability benefits!

 

Example #2: Claim Decided After Three Years

If you filed a claim and VA finally granted it more than three years later, then VA is supposed to set the effective date and pay retroactive benefits back to the day of your claim. Here’s how it should work:

  • Active duty discharge date: May 1, 2012

  • Claim filed date: July 1, 2014, more than one year after discharge

  • VA rating decision date: August 1, 2017

  • Correct effective date: July 1, 2014

Bergmann & Moore often reviews VA rating decisions where VA erroneously set the effective date as VA’s decision date, in this case August 1, 2017. However, VA should have paid the claim with an effective date of July 1, 2014, more three years earlier, because that’s when the Veteran filed the claim.

As a result, VA may have improperly denied a single Veteran without children rated 100 percent up to 36 months of disability compensation amounting to more than $100,000!

 

Bergmann & Moore in Action

Understanding VA’s complex regulations for establishing accurate effective dates and retroactive payments can be a challenge for Veterans and families. Bergmann & Moore has helped hundreds of Veterans win their retroactive disability benefits because our staff knows the VA claims system well and we are trained to listen and care.

 

Free Retroactive Benefits Consultation

Bergmann & Moore remains dedicated to helping Veterans obtain the maximum benefits from VA. If you received a VA rating decision and you believe VA set the wrong effective date, then Bergmann & Moore may be able to assist you with this type of claim appeal. Please contact Bergmann & Moore for a FREE consultation.

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