Am I Able To Get Veteran Disability Back Pay?

Can you get veteran disability back pay? Because the VA is notorious for taking a long time to award disability benefits to veterans, you’ll be happy to know that there is a silver lining. And the longer you must wait, the better your chances of getting back pay.

Am I Able To Get Veteran Disability Back Pay?

Veterans who apply and have trouble getting their benefits may wait months and even years before receiving their monthly VA disability payments. This can lead to a one-time lump sum.

What Is Veterans Disability Back Pay?

There is usually a substantial wait between the time veteran applies for disability benefits and the time they begin to receive these benefits. Therefore, the VA generally pays benefits in full that the veteran is due. This can lead to a substantial payment to make up for the months (or years) waiting for the payments to begin.

Commonly called “back pay,” it’s the difference between the effective date and the date of the benefit award. This means that you may receive a lump sum that’s the total amount of money you would have received monthly if you’d been awarded benefits from your effective date.

Defining The Effective Date

The VA pays benefits from what it calls your “effective date,” which is the latter of two dates. These are the date of your application or the date that your service-connected disability either shows up or increases in severity.

For example: If you apply for VA disability benefits on May 1st, and your benefits are approved on December 1, your monthly benefit payments may not start until the following May. This means that you would receive a lump sum equal to the amount you would have been paid from your application date, which was the original May 1st when you applied. This original May 1st is the effective date.

For most claims, the date of your application is the effective date. However, the second date is usually when a veteran decides to file for the first time or to request an increase in their ratings. That’s why the second effective date would not be the original date of the claim filing.

Sometimes, an earlier effective date may be used. These would be for recently discharged veterans, claims for increased ratings, or Agent Orange exposure claims. The reason for that is because Agent Orange exposure is known as a presumptive service-connected condition.

The VA begins the claims process once the effective date is established for the veteran.

How Much Will I Receive?

As with any legal case, it’s impossible to give an exact dollar amount for a veteran’s disability back pay. Every veteran’s case is different, their benefit amounts are different, and they’re based on each individual’s disability rating.

The eventual back pay award will be based on:

• The amount that the veteran will receive monthly once benefits are awarded
• The number of months and/or years that the veteran has been waiting since his or her effective date.
• The differences in the benefit amount for the months or years that the veteran has been waiting, taking into account factors like cost-of-living adjustments.
• Any other special considerations, such as additional monies for aid & attendance, or other allowances.
The longer you have been waiting, the larger your possible back pay will be. As always, veterans’ benefits are tax-free. This includes anything you receive as back pay.

Appeal If You’ve Been Denied

For a handful of reasons, many VA claims are denied at the outset. If this has happened to you, don’t re-apply for VA benefits—file an appeal instead.

If you submit another application, your effective date will change. This means you could lose hundreds and even thousands of dollars in back pay. Using the above example, if your claim is denied in December, and you reapply at that time, your new effective date will be December 1st, not the original May 1st. You will in this example lose six months of potential back pay, if not more.

After a successful review or an appeal, you may also receive back pay.

It’s important to note that all applications for VA disability benefits must be made in writing. If you have had discussions with an attorney, a veterans service officer (VSO), or a VA representative about filing a claim, don’t assume that it has been done for you.

The VA has considerable discrepancies in notifying veterans about the possibility of having a claim. Therefore, it’s up to you to begin the process. The effective date of your award is always on the date of your written claim, and not before. Working with a disability law attorney can make the process easier and make sure that your application is done correctly the first time and that any appeals are handled well.

Herren Law Helps Houston Veterans

Getting veteran’s disability back pay and benefits is a long, arduous process that takes patience as well as understanding the law. William Herren is a disability attorney who has helped more than 4,000 Houstonians get the benefits they deserve, including veterans. Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) 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. You don’t owe a fee until we win your case.

Can I Get Veteran Disability Benefits For Anxiety Or Depression In Houston?

At one time, disabled veterans returning home after leaving military service were simply rated for their physical injuries. Mental disorders, including so-called “shell shock,”  were not considered for disability benefits. Fortunately, the VA has begun to recognize mental disorders like anxiety and depression and awarding veteran disability benefits to those who need them.

Can I Get Veterans Disability Benefits For Anxiety Or Depression In Houston?

Like civilians, veterans can find themselves with anxiety, depression, or both. The actual rate of these illnesses for veterans is two to three times higher than the rest of the population. Because veterans can be particularly susceptible, especially those who have experienced combat, the VA does award disability based on your level of disability and a service connection.

Mood Disorders

The VA uses the term “mood disorders” to classify anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders. Anxiety and depression are common, as is PTSD, sleep problems, compulsive behavior, sadness, apathy, and others.

These are two different disorders but frequently occur together. Anxiety is usually identified by feelings of dread, uneasiness, or fear that leads to physical stress. Depression is generally feeling blue along with sadness, hopelessness, apathy, and other long-term feelings, including thoughts of suicide. Left unchecked, the symptoms can become long-term, and do not resolve over time, requiring medical intervention.

Establishing The Service Connection

As with any medical condition, the VA requires proof and medical evidence. This requires a number of steps that clearly indicate your condition. Unlike a physical condition or injury, anxiety and/or depression require a somewhat higher standard of proof, as well as a service connection.

The mood disorder may be a direct connection or a secondary one.

  • A direct service connection is one that developed during your military service after your military health screening showed no evidence of psychiatric issues, and no evidence of any issues prior to service
  • A secondary service connection shows that the anxiety or depression occurred after a physical injury that is associated with chronic pain, or traumatic brain injury (TBI) that leads to additional physical and mental issues.

Mental and physical illness can also be connected. Depression and anxiety can also lead to symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, dizziness, sleep disorders, as well as and aches, and pains without an obvious cause. You may have considered or filed a claim for the physical symptoms, which could lead to a secondary claim for anxiety or depression.

Medical records are essential, including military and civilian, as well as current treatment records from either a VA or a private provider. A “nexus letter” from your physician is helpful in firmly establishing a connection between your military service and anxiety or depression.

Rating Schedule

The VA rates veterans for anxiety or depression depending on the degree of disability they are experiencing, as well as the level of impairment.

  • 0%–this indicates a mild case that isn’t disabling and probably won’t require medication, so it’s considered a “non-compensable rating.”
  • 10%–the veteran’s condition is easily managed with medication and doesn’t lead to major disability. This rating includes a small disability payment.
  • 30%–the veteran is still able to maintain employment as well as relationships with others, but may occasionally miss work due to self-isolation. Compensation is higher for this rating.
  • 50%–this indicates a higher level of impairment or an increase in it. The veteran may be experiencing difficulty in following instructions at work, completing tasks, making decisions that aren’t in line with previous ones, or symptoms that manifest in physical ways, such as a monotone voice. Compensation increases for the 50% rating.
  • 70%–this rating indicates that the veteran’s symptoms have increased exponentially, and he or she may have difficulty keeping a job or completing classes, leading to an increase of compensation for this rating.
  • 100%–for a veteran to receive this rating, he or she must be completely disabled and impaired with an inability to function. There is a marked decline in the veteran’s emotional and cognitive functioning, and the veteran is unable to work because of it. A veteran may be so anxious or so depressed that he or she is unable to get out of bed, take a shower, or otherwise take care of themselves.

A veteran who has more than one disability will not receive separate checks for each. Rather, the VA uses a complicated system to determine an overall rating that’s inclusive of both physical and mental illness. That is, if you’re rated for a back injury as well as depression, there will be a total rating that encompasses all of the disabling conditions, with a total dollar amount every month.

For Veterans Who Need Help Now

If you’re a veteran, or you know one who is in need of help, The Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7. You can send a text to 838255, open an anonymous chat here, or call 1-800-273-8255, then press 1, all free. You’ll communicate with a trained crisis responder who can help connect you with counseling services across the US, as well as suicide prevention centers (SPC) in VA centers around the country.

We’re Here To Help

You can apply online for VA benefits, or by visiting your local VA office. Help is also available.

If you’ve been denied disability benefits, or don’t know where to start, call the Herren Law Firm today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation. Our attorneys are experienced in helping veterans successfully navigate through the application and appeals process, and we can help you too. Our contingency fee means you won’t have to pay until you start receiving benefits.

The Four Symptoms Associated with PSTD

PSTD is a condition well-known to service members as well as civilians who have either been involved with or witnessed a frightening event. Many people who have been through trauma have difficulty with coping and adjusting but can heal with self-care, reaching out for help and time.

The Four Types Of Symptoms Associated with PSTD

But for those who have more trouble coping and healing from a traumatic event are experiencing PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Any kind of sudden, unexpected shock can bring on PTSD in anyone. However, veterans, especially combat veterans, can be particularly susceptible to PTSD. Risk factors that increase the possibility of PTSD include:

  • Childhood trauma
  • Little or no social support following the event
  • A personal and/or family history of mental illness and/or substance abuse
  • Additional stress following the event, such as the loss of a job, a home, a loved one, or other pain and/or injury

The Symptoms

PTSD is characterized by four distinct symptoms:

  1. At least one re-experience symptom. An individual with PTSD can be “triggered” by a number of external factors, including:
    1. “Flashbacks,” frequently accompanied by physical symptoms such as heavy breathing, heart racing, and/or sweating
    2. Other physical signs of stress
    3. Upsetting or tormenting thoughts
    4. Dreams or memories related to the trauma that recur
  1. One or more avoidance symptoms. Exactly what it sounds like, avoidance can take the form of staying away from people, places, and things that remind the sufferer of the flashpoint event. For instance, a person who has experienced a bad car accident may stay away from cars altogether. A traumatic event at work may lead to someone quitting their job or staying away from their office. Avoidance can also be the avoidance of thoughts surrounding the events.
  1. Two or more arousal or reactivity symptoms. These symptoms can cause sleep or concentration disruptions, anger and/or stress, or eating disorders. They include:
  1. A person startles easily
  2. Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  3. Difficulty with concentration
  4. Irritability, including angry and/or aggressive outbursts
  5. Feelings of tension or being “on edge”
  6. A person engages in reckless, destructive, and/or risky behaviors
  1. Two or more mood and cognition symptoms. These can begin or increase after the event and can lead to social isolation from friends and family members. They include:
  1. Continuing negative emotions such as fear, guilt, shame, and/or anger
  2. Difficulty remembering everything about the trauma
  3. Negativity towards themselves or the rest of the world
  4. Losing interest in formerly favorite activities
  5. Misleading thinking about the event that includes blame
  6. Social isolation
  7. Happiness, satisfaction, and other positive emotions are difficult

Children over the age of six may also re-enact their trauma while playing, or have frightening dreams that may or may not involve the trauma.

Why Do Some People Get PTSD And Others Don’t?

There are a number of factors as to why some people develop PTSD and others don’t after a traumatic event:

  • Getting help and support from family, friends, and/or support groups
  • Resolving feelings regarding their actions in response to the trauma
  • Having and using a coping strategy to get through and learn from the event
  • Having the ability to respond and be prepared to scary events as they happen despite the fear involved

Individuals who do develop PTSD and experience the crippling effects should work to find the help they need to recover so they can live better, without the effects. Those with little or no social support may be able to find help through their primary care physician or local mental health association.

Help is available for those who need it:

Houston VA Disability Attorney For PTSD

Whether you’re suffering from PTSD or something else that’s service-related, we can help you apply, appeal, and make your case to get you the benefits you deserve.

When you’re ready to start your application, need help with an appeal, call The Herren Law Firm at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. Our contingency fee basis means you won’t owe a fee until we win your case, and there’s no obligation.

What Is VA “Special Monthly Compensation” And How Do You Qualify?

What Is VA "Special Monthly Compensation" And How Do You Qualify?

Even if you’re receiving VA disability payments, you may be eligible for additional tax-free benefits called Special Monthly Compensation, or SMC. This is in addition to regular VA disability compensation, and is made available to veterans with specific service-connected conditions such as the loss of extremities or specific organs. You may also be eligible for SMC for a combination of disabilities.

The reasoning for SMC is that some conditions or a combination of them are more disabling than just one. If you’re afflicted with multiple conditions, the VA will pay a higher rate.

SMC Conditions

Some of the disabilities that the VA will consider for special monthly compensation include:

  • Loss of a hand or foot, or loss of use
  • Loss of sight in an eye, with only light perception
  • Deafness in both ears with a lack of air/bone conduction
  • Loss of a reproductive organ, or loss of use
  • Loss of both buttocks (complete), or loss of use
  • Loss of verbal communication through complete organic aphonia (physical loss of voice, which is different from catatonia)
  • Partial or complete loss of tissue from one breast or a complete loss of both breasts attributed to radiation treatment or a mastectomy

Combinations of disabilities that are eligible for SMC can include:

  • Loss of multiple extremities, such as loss of feet, hands, arms, or legs, depending on the combination of losses
  • Bilateral blindness combined with severe hearing loss
  • Being housebound and requiring the assistance of someone else on a daily basis; the amount varies on the degree of assistance needed
  • Paraplegia that includes loss of control
  • Other service-connected conditions combined with these disabilities that can lead to higher benefit payments

Levels Of Disability

The VA divides these conditions into levels, which they decide using the above combination criteria.

  • Levels L through O covers specific conditions and disabilities
  • Level R is assigned if you need help from another person for daily activities such as eating, dressing and bathing
  • Level S applies if you are housebound as a result of service-connected conditions

The VA may consider other specific combinations of disabilities when deciding on an award for SMC. You can also see the VA’s currently available rate table for SMC as of 12/1/2019.

Applying For SMC

You may not realize that you qualify for this benefit unless someone told you about it. And you should also be issued SMC automatically if you qualify. If you believe you qualify for SMC but have not been awarded anything, contact the VA.

You can apply at the closest regional benefit office, or call the VA at 800-827-1000. You can also contact a disability law attorney who works with veterans to help them work with the VA and understands the process.

Be forewarned that the VA will still need to review all available medical evidence as they do for any claim prior to awarding SMC benefits.

Helping Houston Veterans With Special Monthly Compensation

Do you believe you may be eligible for SMC but don’t know how to find out?

William Herren is a disability attorney who has helped more than 4,000 Houstonians get the benefits they deserve, including veterans. We understand the VA system and can work on your behalf to make the applications and appeals process a lot easier. Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) 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. You won’t owe a fee until we win your case.

Valuable information for Texas Veterans on

If you’re a veteran in Texas, you may find yourself endlessly seeking out information online that may or may not apply to veterans in the Lone Star State. There are a considerable number of blogs written by veterans for the veteran community, with a wide range of information available. Some of it may not be applicable or accurate.

Valuable information for Texas Veterans on

What you may not know is that a group of people at Texas A&M in College Station are looking out for the veteran community here. They’ve have put together one website where you can find information you need specific to Texas veterans.


Since its beginnings in 2007, TexVet has served as a catalog website for a wide range of services and trustworthy information available to veterans. Their mission statement:

TexVet is the state clearinghouse for trusted information, resources, data, technical support, and research relevant to service members, veterans, their families, and those who serve them.

The idea is to make it easy for Lone Star veterans to find what they need, as well as organizations that serve them to reach both the military and veteran communities.

While there are a number of small nonprofits and other organizations that serve the veteran community, many may not have the resources to gather as much information, or keep it current. TexVet’s intentions are for their single website to have current information that veterans need at their fingertips.

The website receives funding and support from Texas A&M University Health Science Center as well as the Texas Department of Health & Human Services. The website’s resources are updated regularly and audited yearly.

Available Information

The website’s information is categorized so that you can find what you need quickly. Choose from:

  • Mental Health Resources
  • Legal Assistance
  • VA Claims
  • Transportation
  • Events
  • Property Tax (an important issue in Texas)
  • Finding a job and starting a business
  • The Hazelwood Act (for Texas veterans education)
  • Homeless Assistance
  • Social Groups
  • Women Veterans

Additional menu selections include Transitioning Vets and a section for Fun/Free things for veterans and their families, including discounts.

If you’re looking for information about GI bill higher education, click here to go to their Higher Ed page. You can also find information on the Hazelwood Act for Texas Veterans and their families, as well as a list of colleges and universities that accept both the GI bill and the Hazelwood Act. In the Houston area alone, you can choose:

  • Alvin Community College
  • Houston Community College
  • Prairie View A&M
  • Sam Houston State University (Huntsville)
  • Texas Southern University
  • Texas Women’s University
  • University of Houston
  • Texas A&M Galveston

The website lists all the colleges and universities statewide that you can choose from to receive higher education.

Criteria For Listing On

There are a wide range of companies that offer help or services to veterans and their families. Unfortunately, not all of them are legitimate, nor are they helpful, such as payday loan companies, which profit from veterans but do nothing to help.

Most of the listings on the website are governmental agencies, local services and nonprofits that are vetted to ensure that they meet TexVet’s standards.

To ensure that companies and organizations are legitimate and genuinely care about the veterans who may contact them, any organization must meet TexVet’s Standards Of Trust in order to appear on the site.

While most for-profit companies aren’t listed, TexVet will occasionally list one and mark it as a “for-profit” entity.

Doing a search for “veterans assistance” will bring millions of search engine results, but may not be what you need. TexVet strives to be the first website Texas veterans visit when they need information or resources.

More Assistance For Your VA Disability Claim

We respect our military and veteran community, and we’re ready to help you when you need it.

The Herren Law Firm has helped over 4,000 Houstonians get the benefits they deserve. Call us at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 for a free consultation. We’ll talk with you about your case and let you know how we can help. Our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.

How To Appeal A Veteran’s Disability Denial The Right Way

Even if you’ve crossed your T’ s and dotted your I’s, a denial of your claim is still a strong possibility Many veterans have seen their claims denied on the first try. But that doesn’t mean the VA gets the last word. You have the right to appeal the VA’s decision, but you do have to follow procedure to make sure it’s done correctly. An attorney with experience in VA denial appeals can also help increase your chances of a successful outcome.

How To Appeal A Veteran’s Disability Denial The Right Way

Time Limits

There may be any number of reasons why your claim was denied, that’s why it’s important not to take the initial denial as a final decision. This list of common VA errors may give you several reasons and methods for your appeal.

You’ll have one year from the date of your VA decision letter to file your appeal. If you miss the deadline, you’ll have to start over with a new claim, but you’ll have a new date of application. The time spent working on the first one won’t count towards the second one.

Notice Of Disagreement

The first step is to file an NOD (Notice of Disagreement) with the VA within one year. It’s just a simple statement informing the VA in writing that you disagree with their rating decision. While there isn’t a specific form for it, VA Form 21-4138 is typically used, or just type a letter stating that you disagree with the VA’s decision. You can get the Statement in Support of Claim form online at the VA’s website.

When writing your NOD, don’t begin by listing all the reasons you disagree with the VA; save that for the hearing. You’ll be able to discuss why you disagree with the VA at that point, and you must be specific when you do.

At the top of the letter or Form 21-4138, write “Notice of Disagreement.” Include the date of the letter and the denial decision. State that you plan to appeal and that you disagree with all of the reasons of the denial decision. If you do decide to list some of your reasons, state that it’s not a complete list, and your disagreement is not limited to these reasons.

Sign your letter and make sure to keep a copy for your files (and with your denial letter.) Mail it certified, return-receipt requested to the VA office that sent you the denial letter (unless your file has been moved to a different office. Keep the documents from the post office in your file to show that you met the deadline.

Once that’s completed, start collecting and assembling more evidence to bolster your claim.

Don’t Re-Use the Same Evidence

The evidence you used in your original claim wasn’t enough to get an approval, so you’ll need to find and pull together additional evidence, both from military and VA doctors and from civilian doctors you’ve seen and consulted with. Information from private doctors is allowed, so make sure you’re covered. Get new and additional evidence to support your claim, including:

·         Medical experts—if you have a specific medical condition, your specialist will have strong information to bolster your claim. For instance, if you’ve had a heart attack, your cardiologist would be your best “medical expert.”

·         Vocational experts—if you’re unable to work due to your disability, a vocational expert can write a report supporting your disability claim, explaining why you’re unable to work. This is especially helpful for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) claims, which can also be appealed if denied.

·         Psychologists—if your disability is mental in nature, or if your physical condition has caused a secondary service-connected mental condition (i.e., depression due to being in chronic pain), a psychologist or psychotherapist has specific information on how your disability affects you.

·         “Buddy Statements”—if your medical records have been lost (and it happens), a “Buddy Statement” is one given by friends, family, and/or fellow service members who can testify to your service-connected disability. For instance, a colleague who witnessed your disability when it happened is a strong statement verifying your claim. A friend or family member who is involved in your disability care can also verify your day-to-day difficulties and how the disability affects you now. A Buddy Statement can be used for physical or mental disabilities, or both. They are particularly useful when no records of your injuries were kept at the time they occurred.

·         Secondary service-connected disabilities—you may have just one form of disability, but two or three conditions that are less prominent than the first one. With medical evidence to support your claim, make sure any secondary conditions that came out of the primary condition one are listed and included with your claim.

Two Types Of Appeals

You can chose to have our appeal heard by a decision review officer (DRO) or by the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA.)

If you chose a DRO, you can either request a review of your file and claim, or request a personal DRO hearing. Both offer a somewhat shorter waiting period.

If the DRO denies your claim, you can still appeal to the BVA, but it will take longer. The DRO is an additional chance for a reversal of your claim decision.

Information From the VA

The Veterans Administration website also lists a number of resources, that can help you with your appeal. Use this information when assembling your evidence and starting your claim.

Let Us Represent You

Denied by the VA? Don’t rely on someone who hasn’t had VA claims and appeals experience. We have. Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online form) to schedule your free consultation. We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians navigate the VA’s complicated application and appeals process to get the benefits they deserve. There’s up-front fee and no obligation, and you won’t owe us a fee until we win your case.

Can I Get Back Pay For My Veteran’s Disability?

You may have already applied for your VA disability payments. You may already be receiving your benefit payments. But are you getting what you’re entitled to? You might be eligible for back pay.

Can I Get Back Pay For My Veteran’s Disability?

Disability benefits are paid from the date of application. But because it takes a long time to receive benefits, the VA begins benefit payments from the date of application. Since it takes so long before monthly benefits start, accumulated benefit amounts from the waiting period are usually paid in one lump sum. The VA even calls it “back pay.” You may receive a substantial amount of money at one time as a result of your waiting period.

Establishing The Service Connection

Injuries and illnesses that are deemed “service connected” are eligible for VA disability benefits. This includes a pre-existing condition that was exacerbated by your military service.

To be eligible, you must have served in the US military, active or inactive duty for training, received a discharge that was not dishonorable and incurred a disease or injury while in or was aggravated by your military service.

You’ll not only need medical evidence of the service connection (records, etc.), you’ll need evidence to show the relationship between your military service and your illness or injury.

The VA also presumes that certain veterans have a “presumptive disability” by nature of their service record, even if there is no direct evidence of a service connection.

Application Date

It’s important to note that when you apply directly relates to when your benefits start, and when you’ll receive back pay.

Ideally, you should submit your application within one year of your discharge from the military so that your application date is the same as your date of separation.

If you apply one year or more after your date of separation (even one day), the application date is the first day of the month after the VA receives your claim. Most veterans are not aware of this and have the potential to lose a year’s worth of benefit payments.

If your “effective date” is incorrect, the VA may owe you back pay. Many veterans and their families have been given incorrect application and effective dates, and don’t realize they could be owed money.

Re-opening Your Claim

If your original claim was denied, but you have new evidence to support your claim, this could lead to “back pay” when the claim is finally processed. If a medical condition is not noted in your service record, but a later medical exam offers evidence that it was, your claim may be re-opened and re-evaluated. Back pay would result from the original application date to current day.

Pre-Discharge Claims

If you’re now on active duty or in the National Guard and have a discharge date, the VA suggests applying within the period 180 to 90 days before you leave. Formally known as “Benefits Delivery At Discharge,” your claim can be processed much faster, and all medical records can be expedited. Should you be found to be medically unfit for duty, you’ll be given a proposed VA disability rating and a separation date. Use these to file your pre-discharge claim, and avoid losing any time or benefit money.

Are You Owed VA Back Pay?

If you believe the VA has underpaid you, unfairly denied your claim or you need help filing an appeal, The Herren Law Firm is ready to help. We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get the veteran’s benefits they deserve, Call us at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 for a free consultation for help with a VA claim. Our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.

How To Increase Veterans Disability Compensation

Getting your veteran’s disability started is difficult enough. What if the VA didn’t rate you properly for your disability? Can you get a “raise” if you service-related condition causes your health to deteriorate? Here, we’ll discuss the how you can increase your Veterans disability compensation and guide you through the process.

How To Increase Veterans Disability Compensation

What Is Veteran’s Disability Compensation?

If you have a medical condition that developed or was aggravated during military service that causes you to become disabled, the VA will evaluate your medical records to determine the severity of your injuries, disability and economic impact. Disability ratings are given in 10% increments, up to 100%. “Disability” is your inability to work, and how much based on the VA’s own Schedule of Ratings.

Why Ask For A Review?

If your original condition was not rated correctly the first time, or your service-related condition has worsened (such as bone degeneration) it may be time for a review. If you are experiencing increasing pain, or need additional treatment for your condition, a re-rating may give you additional compensation and possibly increased medical care.

Determine Your Current Disability Rating

First, find all the correspondence from the VA regarding your disability case. Locate every letter, file, form, and anything you’ve received about your case, no matter how far back it goes. Make sure you know what your current disability rating is before you proceed.

You can also check your current rating at the VA’s online eBenefits site. Don’t guess at what your rating might be. Find out for sure first.

Using the VA’s own Schedule For Rating Disabilities, compare your current rating to the current standards. Consult with your doctor (VA or private) to determine if  and how your condition has progressed, and your chances of a successful update.

You may find that you are getting the maximum available for your current disability rating. Note that getting a rating increase will only occur for an increase in disability, not an need for increased compensation.

Medical Records

Increasing your rate will require you to backup your request with medical records to substantiate your claim. You’ll need to supply the name and address of the VA facility that has your medical records (including military.) Don’t rely on the VA to find your civilian medical records, so make sure you assemble them to support your case. You’ll need to file this form to authorize your physician to speak with the VA.

Consider obtaining an independent medical opinion/exam before you file your claim. Find a physician who specializes in disability medicine, and can offer independent evidence to support your claim.


Once you’ve assembled your necessary documentation, it’s time to file. You can go online and use the VA’s form 21-526 EZ, or get help in person from a VA regional office, state or county veterans affairs office, or from an accredited veterans assistance organization.

Caveat (Warning)

Requesting a rating increase will cause the VA to reopen and re-review your entire case. They may uncover an error in the original finding, or find evidence of improvement and re-rate you at a lower rating and/or amount, decreasing your compensation. Make sure you have more than enough evidence to support your request of a higher re-rating to avoid the surprise of a reduction.

What Happens If The VA Denies Or Reduces Your Claim?

You have the right to appeal the VA’s decision. If your claim is denied, it may be time to call Herren Law for help.

We Can Represent You

Herren Law has helped over 4,000 Houstonians get the disability and veteran’s benefits they deserve, and we’ll be happy to help you. Call us at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 for a free consultation. We’ll talk with you about your case and let you know how we can help. Our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case. You don’t.

Does The VA Pay Retroactively To The Disability Date?

Applying for VA disability benefits involves a lot of paperwork, time, and moving targets. Many veterans become frustrated with the difficulty, the length of time it takes, and the dead ends they encounter. But there are a few bright spots.

Does The VA Pay Retroactively To The Disability Date?

The VA has streamlined a few processes that are intended to help alleviate the backlog of claims. The “Fully Developed Claim” is one, and it increases the veteran’s involvement in his or her application. The VA also created “Disability Back Pay,” allowing a retroactive lump-sum payment for the time you spent waiting for your benefit claim to be active. Before you start your application, though, there are a few things you need to understand about receiving benefits and back pay.

Determining The “Effective Date” To Receive Pay Retroactively

The VA will pay benefits and back pay retroactively, according to your “effective date.” The date is established by the later of these two dates:

• The date your entitlement began, or
• The date the VA receives your application

The first criteria of the effective date is when a veteran is treated for a condition, and when the VA should have started paying you.

If your application is within the first year after your service separation, the eligibility date is your date of separation. Disability Back Pay will then be paid retroactively to that date. If you are planning to file a claim, you should do so as soon as possible after you leave the military (if not before, since it takes a lot of time.) Don’t wait until the last minute! When your claim is approved, your back pay will be paid to the date of separation.

If your application is more than a year after service separation, even by one day, the effective date will be the date it’s received by the VA. Your retroactive back pay will only amount to the time since your application was submitted. This usually occurs when a veteran develops a medical condition long after separation. By submitting your application a year after your separation date, you will lose an entire year of benefits.

If the VA makes an error, they will adjust your effective date to where it should have been.

If The VA Denies Your Claim

Once you receive your denial letter, you will have one year to file a Notice of Disagreement with the VA. If you can supply additional evidence (i.e., newly discovered military medical reports) to support your claim, and your benefits are granted, your effective date should be the date of your original application, before the claims denial. An experienced attorney can help you formulate your appeal and help you submit it.

Get Started Now To Receive Pay Retroactively

You can informally notify the VA in writing that you plan to file a claim, giving you an earlier filing date than you would have had. You can use their Statement of Support, or write a letter stating your name, SSN and service dates. The VA will respond by sending you an application form, which must be filled out and returned within one year of your intent letter. If you don’t, you’ll lose the extra time you gained by notifying the VA of your impending claim.

Another Form Of Back Pay

While it doesn’t happen very often, you may occasionally receive additional back pay. If Congress changes the amount that a particular disability should be paid, you could receive an additional back pay disbursement, retroactive to your effective date. These funds would be the difference between what your disability paid you and the new amount of disability payments. Like the original back pay, you would receive it in a single lump-sum payment. You won’t need to apply for it—the VA will automatically process the back payment and send it to you.

You Don’t Have To Do This Alone

Herren Law has experience helping thousands of veterans navigate the VA’s difficult claims system, and we’re ready to help you do the same. Call us at (713) 682-8194, and we’ll discuss how we’ll work with you on your case. The consultation is free, and our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t owe us anything until you begin collecting benefits.

Can A Veteran Rated 100% P&T Work Part Time?

If you’ve been successful in getting VA disability benefits, you may discover that it isn’t enough. A part-time job may become necessary to supplement your income. But can you work? Will working, even part time, affect your monthly VA benefits?

It might. But there are a few things to think about before you start filling out job applications and going on interviews.

working part time as a disabled veteran can affect your benefits

What Is P&T?

This stands for “Permanent & Total,” meaning that you are permanently and totally disabled as a result of injuries or medical conditions you acquired during military service. In other words, you are unemployed or unable to maintain substantially gainful employment (full time, paying wages greater than poverty level) as a result of a service-connected medical condition(s) incurred on active duty.

Schedular or TDIU?

There are two types of ratings assigned to veterans—“Schedular” and Unemployability, or TDIU. These ratings indicate your ability to work at the level you held prior to the injury. The VA considers only service-connected disabilities as the reason a veteran can’t be employed.


Known as the Schedule of Ratings, or the VA Impairment Rating Tables, these are used to rate a veteran’s ability to return to work. You may be rated at 100% if you received a 60% or more rating from the Schedule, whether for a single disability, or for two or more that add up to at least 70%, creating a 100% disruption in your ability to generate an income. Even though you may not be completely physically disabled, you are allowed to work and earn any amount of income without any impact to your VA benefits.

Schedular disability is not the same as the determination of disability that is used for SSDI (Social Security) benefits.

Total Disability/Individual Unemployability (TDIU)

This version of VA disability means that your rating inadequately compensates you in your ability to generate an income for the disability as it’s awarded.

You may be able to earn a “marginal” income, which is at or below the US poverty threshold (in 2017, it’s currently $12,331 for one individual under 65, and $11,367 over 65.) Should you exceed that “marginal” level, your VA benefits may be reviewed for reduction.

You can, however, earn more than a “marginal” income if you are in a “sheltered position.” This may mean one of three situations:

  • If you’re working in a family business in a “protected environment,” where an employer makes a special effort to employ a disabled individual
  • In a position where specific accommodations are made for you or anyone in the position
    • If the position was created or modified just for you, and the company would not hire a replacement if you left
  • If a similar company wouldn’t hire someone like you for the same job and the same work, such as a position created/modified just to hire you, i.e, offering flexible work scheduling for medical treatments

This rating is usually assigned to veterans with conditions that may be temporary and resolve with treatment.

Should the VA question your employment or reduce/eliminate your benefits, it may become necessary to request documentation from your employer to defend your position. Our attorneys are experienced in VA claims, and can help you through the process.

If The VA Denies Or Reduces Your Benefits

Call us immediately—you must appeal quickly or lose the opportunity. Our attorneys can work with you to file your appeal in the VA’s system to get you the benefits you deserve.

We’re Here To Help

This is just a brief overview of VA disability and working, and should not be considered a complete guide.

The Herren Law Firm has helped over 4,000 Houstonians get the disability and veteran’s benefits they deserve, and we’ll be happy to help you. Call us at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 for a free consultation. We’ll talk with you about your case and let you know how we can help. Our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.

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