Don’t wait to file a new claim for VA Disability Compensation
There is no time limit on when you may file a claim for VA Disability Compensation. However, it is important to file your initial claim as soon as possible. Why is this important? The VA will consider the date they receive your application as the “Effective Date.” As a result, if your claim is awarded, the VA will pay you back to the Effective Date. Simply stated, you are losing money the longer you wait to file your claim.
Recently discharged? If yes, you should file right away. To clarify, if a veteran files a claim within a year of discharge, the Effective Date will be the date of discharge (and not the date the VA receives the veteran’s application) for any awarded conditions that are filed for within the first year.
According to the VA, “[c]ompensation may also be paid for disabilities that are considered related or secondary to disabilities occurring in service and for disabilities presumed to be related to circumstances of military service, even though they may arise after service.” More simply, it is often that a service-connected condition will result in a disability or disease that was not incurred in service. This is called a secondary condition.
For example, you may have tinnitus (ringing in the ears) which was caused by your time in service. Subsequently, you may suffer from headaches. Though the headaches are not related to your time in service, the headaches would be eligible for service-connection if it can be shown that they were caused as a result of the tinnitus. Therefore, it is extremely important that you file for EVERYTHING you think was caused by your time in service on the initial application.
Sleep apnea is another medical condition that can be caused by other service-connected issues. If you have sleep apnea and use a CPAP machine, you may be entitled to a 50% rating.
Conditions may be presumptive for VA Disability Compensation. For example, a Vietnam veteran does not have to prove that agent orange caused the coronary artery disease he has today. That is to say, it is presumed that the veteran was exposed to agent orange and also that agent orange is at the root of the disease.