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.

Rita BarnesRita Barnes
00:03 20 Jan 22
This is a great group of people who really care about your well being. They all treated me as though I was family and helped me with my work comp case in more ways than the average would have.Thank you Jason and Thank you Tina! For doing an awesome job.
Cortex ButlerCortex Butler
18:09 29 Dec 21
I am a Veteran of United States Air Force and was awarded my first 30% in 1996 and have been fighting for my rating for 26 years I came to Perkins and Studdard in 2019 while my mom was in a terrible incident and was given to much anesthesia and through GODS Grace she was spared her life, She is disabled since 2018 and I have been struggling with my life and issues and yet I didn’t call the law firm every 10 minutes or call being rude anytime, I mentioned this as I got to know Jessica more than just a phone call and Mr Studdard was always available when not working on other cases or in court, They always called back and Never had to do a call back, My Review is Simple in Life there peaks and valleys and it doesn’t stop because you have issues, Perkins & Studdard took my case in 2019 in 2021 I received my 100% from VA, I Was Never Rude, I was Never Promised Success, I Was Never Lied too and I was Always Treated with Respect, Friendliness, and Kindness the Real Stuff not a (Money Thing) If You want a firm that Cares about the Client and will work on your case even through a pandemic, Will not lie, will not promise anything will communicate your case and will Give you their Best ALWAYS THIS IS THE Best Law Firm for VETS HANDS DOWN Perkins and Studdard THERE IS NO OTHER 100% we had 5 calls Total Case That’s Taking Care Of Business
annetteMomma nokesannetteMomma nokes
14:29 12 Sep 16
Jason and his paralegal Lisa were on point and on top of their game when it came to handling my worker's comp. injury case. I tried going it alone and the insurance carrier pushed me around. They denied extra physical therapy. They denied injections the doctor recommended to ease my pain. When I turned my case over to Jason things turned around, QUICK. They were at all times attentive and on top of my case. I cannot recommend Jason and his staff enough. If you are hurt at work, this is the firm you want on YOUR side.
Sheila KirklinSheila Kirklin
23:11 12 May 16
Jason Perkins, was my lawyer in a workers comp. case, my case has settled now, and I am very happy for all Jason and his office hard work on my case, he was always there to help me out with any questions that I had or help I needed. Jason is a excellent lawyer and if I ever need another one I would only go to Perkins,Because I believe they would be able to help me in any situation I am in need of..
Anna PabonAnna Pabon
23:16 13 Sep 15
I recommend Perkins Law Firm. Everyone I came in contact with there was very nice. Kim was very helpful and any time I had a question she made sure I got an answer. Ann Margaret really took the time to explain things to me.

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