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What are Effective Dates of VA Disability Claims and Why Do They Matter?

The effective date for a VA disability claim is the date that a benefit becomes effective and is used by the VA to determine the start date for the payment of claim. It is important because it impacts the amount of retroactive benefits a veteran may get.

How Does the VA Determine Effective Dates?

Typically the VA uses the date the claim is filed as the effective date. This means that the date the veteran files a claim for disabilities typically determines how much retroactive benefit is owed.

In some cases the VA can also use the date entitlement to the benefit arose. This means that if a veteran files for something in 2013 but does not receive a diagnosis until 2017, the VA will grant the effective date as 2017 since that is when the entitlement arose.

Why are Effective Dates Important?

Effective dates are important because the amount of retroactive benefits, or back pay, that a veteran receives depends on their effective date. The earlier the date, the more back pay.

Retroactive benefits, or back pay, is the money owed to the veteran by the VA for the time that has elapsed from their effective date to the time they are granted benefits. This time span can be months or years.

Can I Change my Effective Date?

Although a direct service connection effective date is usually the date the VA receives you claim, there are special circumstances which may change it. These circumstances include:

  • Recent Separation from Service
  • Presumptive Service Connection
  • Changes in Law
  • Appeals for Increases in Disability Ratings


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