A First Look At 2018 Veterans Disability Rates

If you’re receiving VA disability payments, you’re getting a raise. Check out the new veterans disability rates below.

Veterans who rely on disability benefit payments saw only a small increase of .03 percent in 2017, and there were no increases in 2016. But in 2018, veterans will see full 2% increase (called cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA) in their monthly disbursements.

A First Look At 2018 Veterans Disability Rates

House Bill 1329, titled the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2017 authorized this increase. The president signed it into law on November 2nd, 2017.

This is the largest increase in VA disability benefit payments since 2012.  The new, increased rate became effective on December 1, 2017, and will appear in payments issued beginning on December 31, 2017.

If you are a retiring veteran this year, you’ll also see a temporary COLA increase from the increase in active duty military pay given in January.

COLA Calculations

Cost of living adjustments are computed by examining the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Using the CPI-W from the third quarter of both the current year and the previous year (July, August and September), the COLA is based on the increase percentage from the 2016 third quarter to the third quarter in 2017.

This year’s weather disasters in the southern US may have contributed to the assigned increase as well, due to higher gas and other consumer prices  as well as other inflation-related items.

How Much?

If you’re at 10% disability and have no dependents, you’ll receive an additional $136.24 per month, or $1,634.88 for the year.

If you’re at 20% disability without dependents you’ll see an increase of $269.30 per month, or $3,231.60 for the year.

These ratings have no other adjustments for spouses, parents or children. However, things get a bit more complicated with higher ratings.

If your rating is between 30% and 60%, and you’re alone, you’ll receive $417.15 for 30% to $1083.52 for 60%. The rates increase with a spouse, a parent, spouse and parent (one or two), and an additional stipend for a spouse who needs “aid and assistance” (listed as a/a) as well as veterans with children.

For veterans rated 70% to 100% disabled with no dependents, the increased amounts start at $1365.48 for 70% disabled to $2937.96 for 100% disabled. With a spouse, dependent parents and/or children, there are also upward adjustments for each.

Your ratings consist of a single number for any and all conditions that rate you as “disabled.” You can review the complete breakdown of increase amounts here.

As A Reminder

VA disability payments are not listed as “gross income” on tax returns, since it is non-taxable.

Need Help?

If you’re applying to the VA for disability benefits, but can’t seem to get anywhere, call The Herren Law Firm. We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians navigate the VA’s complicated application and appeals process to get the benefits they deserve. Call us today at 713-682-8194 to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges.

Do I Qualify for VA Disability Backpay?

When applying for VA disability benefits in Houston, there is one thing you can certainly expect: waiting, and possibly waiting for quite some time for the Houston VA offices to make their decision. The VA is aware of this, and to make up for the time between the VA’s decision and your date of eligibility, the VA has instituted VA disability back pay.

Do I Qualify for VA Disability Backpay? | Houston VA Attorney Herren Law

If you have a service-connected disability and you’re applying to the Veterans Affairs for disability benefits, then it’s important to understand backpay and how it affects your claim. More importantly, you need to get a Houston attorney specializing in VA disability benefits. At Herren Law, we work on a contingency basis, meaning that you won’t owe a penny until you get your benefits. And after years of helping Veterans just like you, attorney William Herren understands what you’re going through and will work with you as well as the VA to get you the benefits you deserve.

Call our Houston law office today at (800) 529-7707 for a free consultation. In the meantime, you can learn more about VA disability benefits below.

Eligibility for VA Disability Backpay

If you are awarded disability benefits from the VA due to your service-connected injury, then you are eligible for retroactive benefits. If awarded benefits, however, the problem that many Veterans face is the amount of back pay they are entitled to. By understanding the relevant federal laws and the Houston VA disability process, you can make sure that the VA is providing a fair and full amount. To do this, the first aspect of VA disability benefits that you need to know is the “effective date.”

The Effective Date of Your VA Disability Benefits Claim

The “effective date” of your claim is the moment the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has received your application for disability benefits. When you finally receive disability benefits, which can sometimes be months, or even years, after the VA receives your application, you will receive disability benefits dating back to that effective date (starting the first of the month after the effective date). For instance, if the VA receives your application on March 3rd, 2015, and you’re awarded benefits in February 2017, then your benefits will be considered from May 1st, 2015 and onward.

This is true for most new claims as well as claims to increase the rating of a pre-existing, service-connected disability. However, there is some conflict regarding what actually constitutes a claim, including what specific documentation you need to include in your claim. Generally, the VA states that a valid claim is VA Form 21-526, citing 38 USC §5101(a). However, there are many types of communications which may qualify as “a claim,” outside of the VA Form 21-526. Also, if the VA receives an informal claim, it must send out VA Form 21-526. The veteran needs to return the Form 21-526 within a year, and if so, the date the VA received the informal claim will be the effective date.

There are also exceptions to these rules, and so, regardless of your situation, it can help to speak with your attorney.

Effective Dates for Direct Service Connections

When you were injured in the military or a pre-existing injury was made worse, then you have a direct service connection. If this is your case, your effective date can be:

  • The date the VA receives your claim, or
  • The date you first got your illness or injury

If the VA receives your claim within one year of the day that you left your military service, then the effective date can be as early as the separation date. For instance, you finished your service on August 4th, 2014, and you had a disability. You apply for benefits within a year on June 10th, 2016. The VA awards 40% disability and, because the VA received the claim within a year of service, the VA sets an effective date at September 1st, 2014.

Effective Dates for Presumptive Service Connections

When you are awarded disability benefits for a presumptive service connection, and the VA receives your claim within one year of your separation from the military, then your effective date may be the date that your first got your illness or injury. Otherwise, if you file a claim after one year of your separation from the military, then your effective date is typically the date the VA receives your claim.

Call Herren Law Today for a Free Consultation

It is important to note that there are many nuances to this law, whereas the effective date can also depend on liberalizing law changes, reopened claims, and with claims based on a Veteran’s death in service. As such, to navigate these complex issues and speak to an expert who will fight for fair and maximum disability back pay, then call Houston VA disability attorney Herren Law at (800) 529-7707 for a free consultation. Evening appointments are available.