VA Disability Effective Date vs Payment Date

While the payment date for VA disability benefits means the day VA pays you, the effective date means the day since your back pay will be counted. Initially, these terms may seem complex to you. But you need to know them in detail if you file for disability benefit claims.

As a veteran with service-connected disabilities or illnesses, you are eligible for VA disability compensation. However, VA usually takes time to evaluate your claim. Sometimes it takes them a long time to confirm your statements.

As a result, even if they approve your claim, it may have already been long since the day your disability symptoms started. Hence, VA introduced the effective date.


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Understanding VA Back Pay or Retroactive Benefit

As we mentioned above, it often takes VA a long time to evaluate and confirm your claim. Suppose you have filed a claim on February 24, 2014. After VA runs its first examination on you, they fail to find or confirm your disability’s connection to your service. So, they deny your claim, then.

But then you submit more evidence. VA ran a re-exam this time and approved your claim on March 17, 2018. However, four years have passed since your initial claim, and you do deserve the payments for all these times. The culmination of money throughout these years is called the back pay, past-due benefits, or Retroactive benefit.

Once VA approves your claim, they pay your back pay too in a lump sum on your first payment date. Now that we have covered that, you may wonder, since which date does VA count the back pay? Let’s discuss that in the following section. 

Introduction to VA Disability Benefits Effective Date

Image Credit: Military

The effective date is the day when VA decides to count your retroactive benefits. And in almost all cases, it is the day you filed your initial claim. So, if we follow the example in the above section, your effective date will be February 24, 2014. VA will count your compensation from this day to the date they start to pay you. Then they will pay this amount in a lump sum.

But the matter may become somewhat complex when you add in the worsening of your diseases and disability ratings. As you may already know, a worsened illness means a higher rating by VA and a higher payment. But the VA doesn’t personally come to check on you. Rather, you have to notify them of your changing condition.

In this scenario, sometimes it takes VA time to find the credibility of your claim of a benefit increase by reexamining your health. So, the time between when your disability first worsened and when VA approved your claim may be a while. Here, the effective date is the day your disability worsens.

Suppose you have filed a claim stating that your disabilities have worsened from 30% to 60% on September 5, 2015. VA examines you but finds no change in your condition. So, they disapprove of your claim. Later they run another examination on June 18, 2020, either by your appeal or because they suspect any change in your health.

This time, however, they find that your disability has worsened from 30% to 50%. According to their exam, this worsening started on March 27, 2019. So, now they approve your claim. However, the effective date in this case won’t be the day of your initial claim (September 5, 2015).

Instead, your effective date will be when your disability worsens (March 27, 2019). So, VA will count the amount you own from March 27, 2019, to September 5, 2015, for the extra 20%.

Short Explanation of Payment Date

The payment date is, as it sounds, the day of the month when the VA pays you the monthly disability compensation. It is almost always the first business day of the month. However, if the first day of the month is a non-business day or holiday, then VA pays on the last business day of the previous month.

Whichever day they pay is the payment date. When receiving your retroactive benefits, they usually pay it as a lump sum on your next payment date, along with your regular monthly compensation.

Effective Date vs Payment Date

Here is a short table that explains the difference between VA effective date and the payment date

Effective DatePayment Date
DateThe day of your initial claim
Or the day your disability has worsened
The first business day of the month.
Or, the last business day of the previous month (if the first day of the month is a non-business day).
What It MeansThe date from when VA will count your retroactive benefitsThe date when VA pays you your monthly benefits

What Are Future Benefits

If you have read thus far, you already know about the retroactive benefits. Any other benefits you will receive from VA, excluding the back pay, are future benefits. It means that your monthly compensations also fall within this title.

When you hire a VA-accredited lawyer to aid in a claim, they may charge amounts from your retroactive benefits but not from future benefits. It is illegal for them to do the letter.

Final Note

Understanding the effective date based on your disability rating and the date of your initial claim may help you calculate your back pay. But if you want to ensure that VA approves your claim, you must provide sufficient evidence. One of them is a private medical report. We can handle that for you at VA Disability Coach.