U.S. military veterans are eligible for monetary benefits and other assistance from the Veterans Administration if they have suffered a disability as a result of their service to our nation. When benefits are not paid from the start of the veteran’s eligibility, the VA will provide retroactive payments to make up for the loss.
In many instances, a veteran is due back pay because their disability has grown worse and the VA has been slow to grant an increased disability rating. Because the VA has a large backlog of cases, it is important for eligible veterans to be able to document their eligibility dates. The dates are used to determine what the veteran is owed in back pay as well as ongoing benefits.
If you are a disabled veteran in South Carolina, Joye Law Firm can help you seek all of the VA disability benefits you have earned with your service to our nation. If your disability rating has increased or should increase, we will help you get the back pay you deserve.
Contact Joye Law Firm in South Carolina about VA disability back pay you are owed today. Let us help you with your Social Security Disability back pay status, too.
What Is VA Back Pay?
The VA may owe a disabled veteran back pay for a number of reasons. Back pay is money a veteran was not paid during the time between when their disability began and when the VA granted the benefit for that disability and began sending payments. Back pay is an issue with the VA because it has a well-recognized backlog of claim cases.
A veteran may receive back pay in cases of:
- First-time rating decisions for existing disabilities
- Rating increase for a worsened disability
- Addition of a secondary disability
- Increase in existing VA disability payments
Veterans’ disability benefit amounts are based on disability ratings, which are assigned in increments of 10% from 0 to 100% according to the veteran’s disability and its severity. Some disabilities are automatically rated at 100%, which results in the highest benefit payment. Benefits also increase if the veteran has dependents such as a spouse, underage or disabled children, or elderly or disabled parents.
When the VA approves a claim or a disability rating, they assign it an effective date. That is the date the veteran was eligible to start receiving the benefit.
The effective date is usually the later date of either:
- The date the VA received the claim
- The date the disability was diagnosed
Back Pay for a Disability Increase
Many disabilities, particularly illnesses, grow worse over time. Veterans whose conditions have worsened may request a new evaluation of their disability rating. The veteran will be required to submit medical records that substantiate their claim of significant deterioration in their overall health and ability to function due to the previously rated disability. The VA may require the vet to undergo a new medical exam, known as a compensation and pension exam or C&P exam.
As with other benefit claims, the effective date is typically the date the VA receives the request for re-evaluation. If there is evidence that the condition worsened appreciably before the rating increase claim was received, the effective date could be set to the date of that evidence.
A veteran also may be due back pay by an act of Congress. Veterans’ benefits are paid according to the VA’s Schedule for Rating Disabilities, which is federal law. From time to time, Congress will pass a law that increases the disability rating of a particular condition or declares a new condition to warrant a disability rating. The change may be retroactive.
For example, the PACT Act of 2022 adds more than 20 new presumptive conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures. If you have a presumptive condition, you don’t need to prove that your military service caused the condition. You only need to meet the service requirements for the presumption, such as service at specified locations and time periods.
Veterans who file new PACT Act claims may be eligible for disability payments retroactive to August 10, 2022, the date the law became effective, once they are ruled eligible.
In other cases, if Congress increases the disability rating of a particular condition and makes the change retroactive, veterans with that condition could be entitled to back pay for the difference between what they have been paid up to the date of the change and what they would have been paid under the new rating.
How Does The VA Calculate Disability Back Pay?
A veteran may be entitled to back pay benefits for the entire time between their effective date and the date their initial claim or disability rating increase was approved.
How much back pay a veteran may receive will depend on the length of time between the effective date of their claim or rating review request and the amount of the monthly benefit the veteran is entitled to receive.
If for some reason your request for a higher rating was stalled over several years, the VA can award you a staged rating, or a rating that gradually increased over the time you were waiting for your rating, and the back pay it warrants.
If you are due back pay over several years, the VA should also take inflation into account as it determines what you are owed.
Contact the Best South Carolina Veterans Disability Lawyers
Contact Joye Law Firm now for a free consultation about increasing your VA disability rating. Our firm can help you determine whether you are entitled to a better benefit and provide sound legal advice on the claims review process.
We’re an established and professional South Carolina law firm with friendly veterans disability lawyers and staff who are easy to talk to about your VA disability questions. Please call us at 877-941-2615 or contact us online.