Is VA Disability Compensation Retroactive?

The Department of Veterans Affairs, more commonly referred to as the VA, is the administration that the United States government established to serve veterans of the United States military. The VA offers disability compensation to veterans who incurred a disability while in military service. Veterans must have been discharged under honorable conditions to be eligible for VA disability compensation.


Veterans must complete VA form 21-526, the Veterans Application for Compensation and/or Pension to apply for disability compensation. The application consists of four parts: general information, compensation, dependency and pension. Veterans applying for disability compensation only need to complete the first three sections, since they aren't applying for a pension. Veterans also have to provide a copy of their DD214 separation papers, and medical records proving their disability.

Claims Process

Once the VA receives a veteran's claim, they will send him a letter notifying him of receipt of his claim. From there on, the VA will not have any more correspondence with the veteran until it makes a decision regarding his claim, unless it needs to request additional information from him. Sometimes it will schedule him an appointment at a VA medical facility to be examined by a VA doctor.

Checking the Status of a Claim

The VA can take six months or longer to make a decision regarding a veteran's claim, depending upon how many claims it has to process. Veterans can check the status of their claims, though, via three methods. They can call 1-800-827-1000 and follow the prompts. They can register online at eBenefits and check it there. Alternatively, they can visit their local VA office and request for a VA representative to check it for them.

Retroactive Benefits

Once the VA makes a decision regarding a veteran's claim, it will send her either an award letter or a rejection letter. If she receives an award letter, the amount that she will receive in disability compensation each month will be listed in the letter. The effective date of the benefits goes back to the date she applied for benefits, which means that her first VA benefits check will be retroactive. She will receive the amount listed in the letter times however many months it has been since she applied for benefits, giving her a lump sum on her first check. Every month thereafter she will receive the amount listed on the award letter.

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