Effective Dates: What they are and how they affect your VA Disability Benefits

One of the more common misunderstandings in Veterans Disability Law is the rule surrounding “effective dates”. What is an effective date? In short, it is the day that you can start receiving your disability benefits. 


 By Matthew J. Brown, Esq. VA-accredited attorney and partner at Wolf & Brown Law Offices

Generally, under federal rules and regulations, the effective date for any claim is set from either the date the VA received your claim or the date that entitlement arose, whichever is later. Let’s use an example to illustrate this:

Veteran John files a claim for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on January 1, 2020.  Before filing his claim, John presents the VA with medical evidence he has a diagnosed condition, a statement regarding his in-service stressors, and medical evidence from his treating physician that provides a nexus between his condition and the in-service stressors.  

After several months, VA adjudicates his claim, grants him entitlement to service-connection for PTSD and assigns him a disability rating accordingly. In this situation, John’s effective date will be the date the VA received the claim ie: January 1, 2020.  

However, let us assume John does not have any medical evidence to support his claim nor a diagnosed condition when he submits an application on January 1, 2020, but he complains of mental health symptoms and has confirmed in-service stressors. In this instance, if the VA adjudicates his claim as service-connected and a VA examiner diagnoses him with PTSD on April 1, 2020, VA may assign April 1, 2020, as the effective date. Why? Because that is when his mental health condition was diagnosed. Here, despite submitting his claim four months prior, the VA would have the right to assign April 1st, 2020 as the effective date.  

It should be noted however, there are several exceptions to this general rule. For example, if a Veteran applies for disability compensation within a year of their discharge from active service, the effective date assigned would be the day after discharge.  

Overall, there are several exceptions to the general rule governing effective dates. If you need assistance with an effective date issue, reach out to our team at Wolf & Brown Law Offices to schedule a free consultation so we may evaluate your case.


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Relevant pages: NJ Vet-Wire; Veterans Disability