When Should I File a Veterans Benefits Claim?


The answer can be summed up in three words – “File it now!”

Veterans benefit claims are different than virtually all other types of legal claims or benefits programs. Because of the peculiarities of VA system, the best approach is almost always filing for veterans benefits as soon as possible. Here’s why:

Waiting to file your claim will cost you money

VA benefits are awarded retroactively to an “effective date”. This date is usually the date of initial application for benefits. So, waiting to apply means the potential back benefits are reduced. Each month without applying means another month of unclaimed and unpaid benefits.

Because there is no deadline for filing for most types of VA benefits, most veterans apply for VA compensation or pension long after they could have.  This means they have already missed out on benefits which they should have received. Filing sooner rather than later puts an end to this problem.

Also, benefits are paid in whole month increments, meaning an application at any point in a month establishes an effective date entitling the veteran to benefits for that entire month. So, filing on February 27 instead of waiting until March 1 would mean an extra month of benefits.

The VA review process is long so you should go ahead and get started.

The backlog of veterans benefit claims topped 900,000 in January 2013. At that time, over 600,000 disability claims have been pending for more than 125 days. The average time from application to a Regional Office was more than 260 days in 2012.

That means on average an application made on January 1 would not be decided until August 20. In the event of a denial, this process can instead be measured in years rather than months. There is plenty of time to wait after filing for veterans benefits.  Don’t add to the wait by waiting to file.

There is plenty of time after filing for veterans benefits to get the evidence in support of your claim.

Your claim may be processed more quickly if VA has all the information and evidence it needs to reach a decision when you file. But remember that VA claims are not like most other types of claims. The VA has a duty to assist veterans.  This includes telling the veteran what evidence is needed to support a claim.

Some veterans delay filing for benefits while they gather the records they think VA will need. Unfortunately, veterans are sometimes surprised to learn that what they thought was important is not important.  Many also learn that they actually need evidence that they thought was not important.  Go ahead and get the process started so VA can tell you what is needed.

VA will also assist in helping obtain needed records. Generally, a compensation claim will require discharge or separation papers (DD214 or equivalent).  It will also require service treatment records in your possession and medical evidence (doctor and hospital reports) to establish disability and service-connection.

In most legal settings, appeals are decided based only on the evidence presented at the initial level of decision-making. However, the VA process is unique.  A veteran can provide additional evidence even on appeal. If your claim was not fully supported with the best evidence possible and was denied initially, this can be corrected with additional evidence during the appeals process. This will likely require the help of an attorney, but we can review your claim and decide what additional evidence is needed.  If you need help, you can simply fill out the “Need Help” form or call the phone number on this page for a free consultation.

 If you believe you are entitled to VA benefits, don’t delay. Apply now to establish the earliest possible effective date and get the process started. This approach should result in faster resolution of your claim, less unnecessary effort by you in guessing at what is needed by the VA, and (perhaps most importantly) more benefits for you and your family. Filing now is definitely a “win-win-win” strategy.

Need more information about veterans benefits

If you would like to find out more about veterans benefits, you can also visit our questions and answers page or learn about our veterans benefits attorneys, Travis Studdard and Jason Perkins.

Travis Studdard is an attorney who focuses on representing veterans in VA disability compensation claims.  He regularly writes about issues that are important to veterans and their families.

You can subscribe to his Veterans Disability channel on YouTube.

It has been a pleasure working with Jason and firm, very knowledgeable and professional, He did awesome job to get settlement that I need for my workmen comp case which was fair in my case, cause the insurance company was trying low ball me and not give me nothing but Jason fix that ….I truly recommend Perkins&studdard any workmen comp case that you have and also want thank Tina also for helping me along this process Thank you Perkins&studdardjahbari swint
Thank you Jason and Tina for everything you've done. Much appreciated. Great law firm! Great results!! Thank you!!! (Austin and Valerie)Valerie Mellinger
Travis and the team working on my VA claim are awesome. I’m happy with their integrity and diligence on working on my claim.Chris “Greybeard” Mullennix
I can't express enough how great it was to work with Perkins Studdard. They are extremely knowledgeable, professional and keep you aware of everything happening with your case. Very friendly from the front office to Mr. Perkins. I would HIGHLY recommend Perkins Studdard!James Strickland
I recommend Travis for an Veteran that has been dealing with constant denial with claims. He also , cover cost for my nexus letter when I ran into financial troubles , that helped me win my case.edwin Cook
I highly recommend Travis Studdard to represent anyone looking to help with VA claims. The VA is very difficult to deal with when attempting to get benefits from service connected injuries, at least that's my experience. Travis and his team knows the VA system and the legal procedures to help you get what you deserve. Travis was kind and passionate with me throughout this process and therefore, I highly recommend this law firm to represent DAV's.Terry Hembree
Such an awesome team. They spoke to me like a person and helped me through every decision with knowledge.Kevin Collett
Highly recommend this firm. Did exactly what they said they were going to and fairly timely. The VA is sometimes extremely difficult to navigate but this took all the leg work away from me and got me the result I thought was fair.Andrew Boone
Amazing staff, very informed along with excellent communication. Within just a few weeks of work, Mr Studdard was able to make things happen that normally take years! Highly recommendJacob Sylvester
Perkins Studdard LLC is the place you need to be if you have a Workers Comp case going on! Mr. Jason Perkins and his staff get the results that you need. They work with you and fight for you.Coming from another lawyer my husband and I were really surprised and appreciated the communication and honesty and understanding throughout the entire process. My husband loves the videos because they held so much information and helped him understand what what was going on. Thank you so much for representing us!!!Deborah Tompkins

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