The effective date of your VA disability claim is important to determine the benefits you will receive once your claim is approved. Specifically, the effective date is the date from which your benefits will be paid. If you have an effective date of January 1, 2020, then that will be the date from which the VA will commence your benefits even if your claim is not approved until January 2023.

va benefits claim

The effective date is the date you initially file your claim. This date stays with your claim so long as your claim is pending. But once your claim has been denied and the time for pursuing an appeal or reconsideration has passed, the effective date would reset once you ever reopen your claim. 

There is one notable exception to this rule, however: if the VA denied your claim because the VA failed to retrieve necessary service records, then the effective date remains the date you originally filed your claim.

What the Law Says About New Evidence – 38 CFR Section 3.156

The statute dealing with new evidence is 38 CFR § 3.156. This statute begins by saying that a previously decided legacy claim can be reopened with the submission of new and material evidence. If new and material evidence is received by the VA prior to the expiration of the period to file an appeal, or before an appellate decision is returned, then the veteran’s claim’s effective date remains unchanged. Otherwise, the effective date is modified to the date the claim is reopened.

However, section (c)(1) says that if the VA receives service-related records that had not been considered by the VA will relate back to the date your original claim was filed or the date your entitlement to benefits arose, whichever is later. This includes records that:

  • Are related to an injury, service-related event, or disease, even if these records do not mention you by name
  • Service records that the Department of Defense provides to the VA long after the VA initially request records
  • Materials that had been classified at the time your claim was initially decided

There are exceptions to this rule, however. This provision does not apply to records that did not exist at the time your claim was decided or to records that could not be located because you did not provide the VA with enough information to locate the records.

Do I Need a Veterans Law Attorney to Help Me?

Making sure your claim’s effective date is decided correctly can mean the difference between receiving the benefits you are owed. Therefore, it pays (literally!) to have an experienced and knowledgeable attorney from Veterans Law Attorneys look at your claim. Our legal staff can review the denial of your claim and help you take advantage of your appellate or reconsideration rights. 

Reach out to Veterans Law Attorneys today by calling (866) 894-9773 or contacting us online.

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