Disabled veterans are eligible to receive monthly disability benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. But in some cases, it takes eligible applicants a long time to receive those much-needed benefits. For this reason, the agency created a VA disability back pay system to help eligible waiting vets make ends meet. Learn how the process works and why it’s harder for some applicants to qualify for VA disability back pay below.
Qualifying for Monthly VA Disability Benefits
In order to qualify for VA disability benefits, you must first have a service-connected medical condition preventing you from working. If that describes you, then you need to submit a disability benefits application to the VA. Your paperwork must be clear and thorough, and you’ll need to include medical evidence to support your disability claim. This medical evidence includes military as well as civilian medical records, plus anything else that’s pertinent to your disability claim. You can submit the application form online, through the mail, or in person at your local VA office.
After completing that first step, you’ll undergo a compensation and pension (C&P) exam. During this exam, the physician will evaluate your injury or condition and note any relevant findings. That physician sends your report to the VA Rating Authorities. The Rating Authorities will review your claim paperwork and the C&P exam results to determine your disability compensation amount.
The compensation amount is based on your overall VA disability rating. Each service-connected disability condition is assigned a percentage that reflects how severely it affects you. For example: If a condition doesn’t negatively affect a veteran in any way, it gets a disability rating of 0%. On the opposite end, if the condition or injury prevents a veteran from working, it receives a 100% disability rating. After rating each individual condition, the VA combines them all to assign a total disability rating for that particular veteran. That total disability rating is the number used to determine each claimant’s VA disability compensation. All veterans are paid the same amount for each disability rating. This chart shows the monetary amount paid for each disability rating.
Qualifying for VA Disability Back Pay
The process described above can take a long time. However, VA disability back pay can help you recoup unpaid time between your date of eligibility and final rating decision. Essentially, VA disability back pay is whatever money the VA owes you for the time between when you applied and your claim approval. Now, pay attention to one very important item: your date of eligibility.
Submitting your claim within one year of separation from military service can positively impact your eligibility for VA disability back pay. Within one year of separation, the day you submit your claim also becomes your VA disability back pay effective date. If you wait longer, your effective date is the first day of the month after the VA receives your claim. To clarify, be sure to submit your VA disability claim as soon as possible after your military discharge. Submitting your claim more than a year after discharge means losing at least one year of VA disability back pay.
Plus, the VA automatically assumes your injuries and health conditions are service-connected if you file a claim within one year. (Unless, of course, there’s clear evidence they were pre-existing medical conditions.) Waiting longer to apply means you need to provide convincing evidence your disability occurred as a result of military service. Essentially, you must prove your condition didn’t result from your own actions after your date of separation.
Worried you won’t have enough medical evidence to support your VA disability claim within one year of separation? Relax — you can still qualify for all VA disability back pay you deserve by submitting an Intent to File form.
Need Help Getting VA Disability Back Pay?
When filing your VA disability claim the first time or during the appeals process, assistance from a VA-accredited attorney can be beneficial. Attorneys who have received accreditation from the VA know the program well and exactly what kind of paperwork you need to file. Attorneys can help you collect proper medical evidence, check the status of your claim, and help you appeal an unfavorable decision.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now!
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.