Effective Date of Disability

When VA determines it will pay a benefit based on a claim, it assigns an effective date.

The day you became eligible for benefits is your effective date. This varies with the type of benefit you’re applying for and the circumstances of your claim.

How Effective Dates Are Assigned

Here’s how VA determines effective dates in various cases. It’s more than a little complicated. Hang in there.

Direct Service Connection

The effective date for a disability that resulted from or was aggravated by military service is whichever of the following comes later:

  • The date VA receives a claim, or
  • The date entitlement arose.

“The date entitlement arose” usually means when your problem first started.

If VA received your claim within one year of the day you left active service, the effective date can be as early as the day following separation.

Example 1
Shaun, a Veteran who separated from active service on September 30, 2013, with a hearing disability, filed a claim for his hearing problem more than a year later. VA received Shaun’s claim on November 15, 2014. On March 10, 2015, VA determined Shaun had a 30% disability rating with an effective date of November 15, 2014—the date VA received the claim.

Example 2
Ric, a Veteran who separated from active service on September 30, 2013, with a hearing disability, filed a claim for his hearing problem less than a year later. VA received Ric’s claim on July 5, 2014. Because his claim was received within one year of separation from active service, VA awarded Ric a 30% disability rating with an effective date of October 1, 2013—the day after Ric’s separation from the military.

Presumptive Service Connection

In most circumstances, if VA presumes your disability is related to military service and receives your claim within one year of your separation from active service, then the effective date is the date entitlement arose. (Remember, “the date entitlement arose” generally means when you first experienced symptoms.)

If VA receives your claim more than one year after your separation from active service, the effective date is when VA received the claim or the date entitlement arose, whichever is later.

Example 1
Beth, a Veteran who separated from active service on September 30, 2013, had medical tests on April 15, 2014. The doctor found she had hypertension. Less than three months later, Beth filed a claim that VA received on July 1, 2014. VA presumed her hypertension was related to her service. Because VA received the claim less than one year after Beth separated from active service, the effective date was April 15, 2014—the date entitlement (her symptoms) arose.

Example 2
Susan, a Veteran who separated from active service on September 30, 2013, underwent medical tests on April 15, 2014. The doctor found she had hypertension. More than a year later, she filed a claim that VA received on October 2, 2014. VA presumed her hypertension was related to her service. Because VA received the claim more than one year after Susan separated from active service, the effective date was October 2, 2014—the date the claim was received.

Reopened Claims

The effective date for a reopened claim is the date VA receives the claim to reopen, or the date entitlement (symptoms) arose, whichever is later.

Liberalizing Law Change

If there is a change in law or VA regulation that allows VA to pay disability compensation, the effective date may be assigned in the following ways:

  • If VA reviews a claim within one year of a law or regulation changing, the effective date may be the date the law or regulation changed.
  • If VA reviews a claim—or a Veteran requests a review—more than one year after the law or regulation changed, the effective date may be up to one year before the date the Veteran’s request was received or the date VA found entitlement was warranted.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation

For claims based on a Veteran’s death in service, the effective date is the first day of the month in which the Veteran died, or was presumed to have died. This is true only if VA receives the claim within one year of the date of the report of the Veteran’s actual or presumed death. Otherwise, the effective date is the date VA receives the claim.

If the Veteran’s death occurred after service and VA receives the claim within one year of the Veteran’s passing, the effective date is the first day of the month in which the Veteran died.

If the death occurred after service and VA receives the claim more than one year after the Veteran’s death, the effective date is the date VA received the claim.

Error

If VA finds a clear and unmistakable error in a previous decision, the effective date of the new decision will be the date from which benefits would have been paid had there not been an error in the previous decision.

Difference of Opinion

A decision that is based on a difference of opinion will have an effective date of the original decision, had it been favorable.

Increases

Increases in the disability rating are dated back to the earliest date when it can be shown that there was an increase in disability, but only if the new claim request is received within one year from that date. Otherwise, the effective date is the date the claim was received.

Disability or Death Due to Hospitalization

If VA receives a claim within one year after the date a Veteran suffered an injury, or his existing injury became worse, the effective date is the date the injury occurred or when it began to get worse.

If VA receives a claim within one year of the date of a Veteran’s death, the effective date is the first day of the month in which the Veteran died.

If VA receives a claim more than one year after a Veteran suffered an injury, his injury got worse, or he died, the effective date is the date VA receives the claim.