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 to make sure VA sets the correct effective date for your disability benefits.
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, your effective date would usually be January 1, 2017. Therefore, 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.
However, in other situations, there are complex rules and exceptions for VA effective dates. Because VA claims processors are sometimes rushed or not well trained, VA often makes errors when setting the effective date. Bergmann & Moore often reviews VA Rating Decisions where the Veteran may be entitled to an effective date that is earlier than the one VA is proposing, which could result in significantly more retroactive compensation.
The effective date VA assigns can be appealed, but specific time limits depend on the decision. Therefore, you need to seek professional assistance immediately if you believe VA made a mistake in setting your effective date.
Veterans who were injured while in the military, or who aggravated those injuries while in the military, may be eligible for disability compensation. In some cases, compensation claims injuries are immediately obvious, such as when a service member is physically injured while on active duty. Other times, veterans don’t experience symptoms until many years after service, such as in the form of a mental health condition or cancer due to exposure of hazardous materials like Agent Orange, Burn Pits, or Asbestos.
Military sexual assaults occur with both men and women and often go unreported. Many Veterans believe they do not qualify for Veterans’ benefits for military sexual trauma if they did not report the assault when it happened, but that is not true. There is no time limit for a Veteran to file a claim for a military sexual trauma, even if it is decades later.
Even veterans who aren’t rated 100-percent disabled may be eligible to be paid at the 100-percent monetary rate. VA awards individual unemployability, often referred to as total disability for individual unemployability (TDIU), when a veteran’s service connected conditions prohibit him or her from maintaining gainful employment. This benefit is separate from Social Security Disability Income.