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.

I could not have asked for a better lawyer to represent my worker comp. case. Any questions I had during the process was always answered in a timely manner. Mr. Perkins really cared about insuring that I wasn't being taken advantage of during this process and helped us reach a settlement that I feel comfortable with. I would recommend this firm to my parents or children.syndel Laber
I'm so thankful and grateful for all the hard work Jason, Tina and Liz did for me. They went above and beyond to get the best outcome for me. They took the to explain everything that was going on with my case again I'm so thankful grateful and happy with the outcome of my workers comp case.Adrian Adams
First off, I must say thank you again to the office of Perkins Studdard. I appreciate all the hard work and dedication your office has shown to achieve a successful and happy outcome. You have forever changed my family’s life! Also, I wanted to give a special shoutout to Jessica Hyatt for her excellent attitude, advice, and overall professionalism throughout every step of this process. This journey has finally been complete after more than a decade of being denied and almost giving up. However, two of my old coworkers advised me that the office of Perkins Studdard had also successfully helped them achieve their proper rating too. Needless to say, this has been one of my best decisions in life. I can now sleep a little better and stress free knowing I finally got what I deserved all along. Once again, thank you for everything! And shoutout to Travis Studdard, “we did it.” Respectfully, Jonathon FloresJonathon Flores
My family and I are so grateful for Jason Perkins and his team. Jason explains thing's to detail and walks you through every step of your case. I would highly recommend Perkins Studdard for your legal needs. Thank you so much Jason and Tina!Chapin & Lea Anne Warner
The best I know for workers comp attorney'sDenise Williams
Jason really has helped me so much through this hard experience I have went through! And the ladies in the office was wonderful with any and everything I had questions about! I highly recommend using this lawyer office to everyone and Jason Perkins for sure!! Thank y'all for everything and making it easier to get through this long though experience! James HammittJames Hammitt
Thank you so much ! I received excellent representation from the entire Perkins Studdard Law firm, my VA claim was resolved and granted in a timely manner, they were hands on with me during the entire process. I would definitely recommend the firm to any veteran deciding to file a VA claim.Darrell Lynn
I would like to thank the law firm of Perkins-Studdard (Travis) and his team, for performing such an outstanding job, at every possible level, during my recent situation with the VA Disability Claims . From the first time I called and spoke with Mr Studdard with an overview of my situation, until the final settlement was executed (successfully I may add), I always felt that I was in good hands with this firm. Everyone in the office, Jessica, and April were responsive, approachable, knowledgeable, good listeners, and extremely professional. Mr. Studdard was realistic of the circumstances and of the potential difficult process that would lay ahead, should I proceed. I can’t say enough about Travis, and I will always be thankful to him. Travis was committed, and he instilled a real sense of confidence during both the highs and the lows. He ultimately prevailed and the outcome was very much in my favor. Of course, each case is different on its own merits and one can never predict how things ultimately will turn out. All I know is that the settlement far exceeded my expectation. Mr. Studdard has been a blessing to me. I strongly recommend that anyone who would find themselves in a similar legal situation with the VA to contact Law Offices of Perkins Studdard for a consultation. It was a very positive experience given the circumstances. Thank you again, I shall forever be in your debt.Concetta Hogg
Mr. Perkins, I cannot express enough how thankful I am for your exceptional representation. Your hard work, expertise, and unwavering commitment to my case have left an indelible mark. Thanks to you, I can now move forward with my life, confident that justice has been served.Esli Roque
Travis and his team have been a blessing for me and my family. They have done an amazing job in helping me navigate the VA appeals process. They kept their eye on the ball all the way through the long, difficult and confusing process. I highly recommend Travis and his team because thanks to their professionalism and know how, I got the benefits I deserve.Daniel patriot

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