Back Pay Ratings Increase

Veterans can receive VA disability benefits for service-connected medical conditions. Those conditions might change over time. In addition, the veteran’s family circumstances or laws covering military benefits might change. Thus, a veteran may be eligible to receive back pay for the period they didn’t receive the full benefits owed to them.  Veterans Guide explains how a VA disability rating increase or other change may lead to an award of back pay and how to calculate how much you’ll receive.

Key Takeaways
  • Veterans can receive VA disability back pay if there’s a delay between becoming eligible for increased benefits and receiving them. This covers periods when the disability worsened or if there were errors in the previous benefit determinations.
  • The effective date determines the start of back pay eligibility. Factors influencing this include the date of claim submission, reopening of claims, legal changes, or corrections of previous errors.
  • Back pay is calculated from the effective date to the initial payment date, reflecting the difference between previously received benefits and the amount due post-rating increase.

Often, veterans who live with a service-connected disability experience changes in their condition. Unfortunately, sometimes the condition worsens. A veteran might qualify for a higher disability rating and, therefore, greater benefits. Since there’s often a lag between when you become eligible for an increase in benefits and when the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs approves and pays out the changes, you may be able to receive back pay. Veterans Guide explains back pay, the circumstances that might warrant it, and how to calculate it.

What Is VA Disability Back Pay?

VA back pay is money the VA owes you for a period you had a disability but were not yet receiving the VA benefits you deserve. The back pay covers circumstances such as an increase in your benefit award because of an increase in the disability, errors in the previous determination, or a difference of opinion on your disability status.

Disability back pay is essential because the VA is not always prompt with its decision-making, especially if you have a complicated medical situation. It can take the VA months or years to award veterans the benefits they deserve. Once they do, VA disability back pay can ensure you receive retroactive compensation for the benefits you qualified for all along.

What Is an Effective Date for Back Pay?

The effective date is when you can start getting disability benefits for your claim. To determine your back pay, the VA will calculate the time from the effective date to the initial payment date. They will also calculate the benefits you should have received in that time and pay them out to you. 

The effective date is impacted by several factors, including the following:

Want to Increase Your VA Rating?

How Does an Increase in a VA Rating Impact Back Pay?

Veterans can file for an increased disability rating if their condition worsens and they qualify for a higher rating. 

To qualify for an increase in your VA rating, you must submit the same medical evidence in the initial claim and new evidence supporting the condition’s worsening. 

As long as the VA gets the claim for an increase in disability within one year of the condition worsening, the agency will pay retroactive benefits from the day it worsened. If it is not within one year, the VA will pay it out from the date it receives the new claim. 

The retroactive amount for an increase in VA disability rating is the difference between the amount you’ve already received and the amount you should have received with the increased rating. As an example, if you receive monthly benefits of $500 for a 50 percent disability rating but qualify as of six months ago for $1,000 a month for a 100 percent rating, you would get the difference between the old $500 amount and the new $1,000 amount for six months as back pay, totaling $3,000.

It is important to note that the effective date will be from your initial claim if the VA denies your claim and you decide to appeal it. It is important to appeal your VA claims within the 1 year deadline, so that you still have a chance to receive the back pay compensation you are owed.

What Other Ways Can a Veteran Receive VA Back Pay?

You may be owed back pay in other situations apart from a worsening existing disability. These include circumstances where you have received a prior effective date, such as the following:

How Does the VA Calculate Back Pay?

The VA calculates back pay by looking at how much you should have received from your effective date until now. That means the more time passes, the more back pay you will receive. It’s important not to delay filing for benefits, especially if you are within a year of separation.

Dependent Changes

Changes in circumstances for your dependents can increase your disability compensation. You can apply for this increase if your disability rating is at least 30 percent. You can apply for additional compensation for dependents if you didn’t include them on your initial application or if your dependents have changed since your application. 

Dependent changes for which you can claim additional benefits include:

Staged Ratings

Sometimes, your disability can change while you are waiting for benefits. In this case, the VA might determine your disability rating in stages. For example, you might be at a 50 percent disability rating for six months and then 70 percent for the next six months. In determining back pay, the VA will look at the benefits you should have received as of the effective date.

Example of a Back Pay Calculation

These numbers are not the VA designated payments, but should serve to give you an idea of how back pay is calculated. For example, let’s say a veteran has received a 30 percent disability rating. They have been on benefits for two years. Let’s assume 100 percent benefits pay $3,000 monthly, 30 percent pay $500, and 50 percent pay $1,000. In addition, this veteran is eligible to receive an additional $100 per month if they have a dependent spouse. 

This veteran has filed a claim to raise their disability rating from 30 to 50 percent, alleging their condition worsened 11 months ago. In addition, they got married six months ago and want to add their spouse as a dependent. The VA accepts the claim, determines the effective date for the increase in disability is 11 months ago, and sets the effective date for the new dependent at six months ago.

Here is the amount of back pay they should receive:

Keep in mind these numbers are just an example, and are not the exact amount in back pay that you would get under these circumstances. Check out the updated monthly compensation for different VA ratings.

How Long Does It Take To Receive VA Back Pay?

Once a back pay amount is determined, the VA commonly issues the back pay within 15 days of the decision. However, it is not uncommon for the process to take longer. If you want to increase your benefit rating and potentially get a quicker payout, you may benefit from working with an attorney. 

Veterans Guide can advise you regarding the resources and help available to you. Contact us today to learn more.

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