How Long Should I Wait For VA Back Pay?

VA back payments are retroactive payments made to disabled veterans. They cover the time between when the VA assigns a rating decision to the vet all the way back to the date that the claim was filed, an injury was identified, or the first day of the month after the VA received the claim, depending on the circumstances surrounding the claim.

General Timelines

If a vet files a claim for benefits within a year of separating from the military, their VA back pay and benefits are back-dated to their date of separation. If they file a claim more than a year after separating from the military, their benefits are back-dated to the first day of the month during which the VA received the claim.

Vets with a disability rating of at least 10% can expect regular payments every month, starting with an initial payment within 15 days of receiving their rating. Payments are received by check or direct deposit. All subsequent payments should reach on the first working day of the new month, and each payment is meant to cover approved disability compensation for the previous month. To make sure you receive regular payments, you must provide up-to-date evidence of your disability and eligibility to the VA, as requested by them.

Back Pay Timelines

However, when it comes to back pay, things work a little differently.

Back pay is usually paid as a lump sum to cover the time period for which an injured or disabled vet rightfully deserved benefits but did not receive them. Because of administrative delays, legal issues, evidence collection, and other factors, it can take the VA months or even years to arrive at a decision for a vet – not only on their disability rating but also on the date from which benefits were due. However, a rough estimate of the time you should expect to wait for your retroactive payment to come through once a disability rating has been arrived at is between one and six months, although cases as short as a few weeks and cases as long as several years are not uncommon.

Furthermore, the VA may use a different date altogether to back-date your payments. Such a date may be the date on which a disability became apparent or was aggravated, and special evidence (in addition to the basic evidence requirements that apply to all claims) may be needed to back such a claim.

Date changes of this type are not uncommon since many vets only file a claim after having undergone a medical procedure for some sort of pain, disability, or injury that they had to begin with. This can push their claim start date even further back, meaning they will be owed more in back-payments once their claim is approved, but it can also mean longer decision-making delays.

Seeking Help

If you have questions about a claim, have had your claim denied, or if you have filed a claim and have yet to receive a response from the VA, speak with a legal expert who can help you with benefits, filing claims, back pay, unadjudicated claims, and learning about changes in claim amounts based on changes in disability ratings.