Sean Kendall Veterans Law Firm
Posted on May 14, 2015

A rash of recent decisions from the Denver Regional Office has shown a policy change at that office to incorrect assign effective dates in VA benefit claims.  Specifically, the Denver VA is assigning the effective dates of claims to the date the VA examiantion, not the date of the VA claim.  What is worse, the Denver Regional Office is consistently ignoring evidence prior to the VA examination even if it supports the earlier effective date.  

The Court and Board of Veterans' Appeals (BVA) have consistently held that the date of the VA examination is not the date benefits begin.  A veteran's disability does not magically increase the day he or she walks into the VA doctor's office.  Such symtpoms exist prior to the date of the VA's Compensation and Pension examination.  Often a veteran has to wait months or years for the VA to conduct a rating examination, and Denver's policy deprives veterans of the benefits they are entitled to and forces veterans to appeal, often for years, the effective date of a benefits award.  

Title 38 U.S.C. § 5110 provides that the effective date of benefits will be the date of the claim or the date the facts showed an increase in rating should be assigned.  But the date of the examination is not the date that a veteran's disability factually increases in severity. The examination date is not a special date of importance, and a veteran can testify or present evidence about when a disability became worse, and VA must assign that date as the effective date of a benefits claims.

If the VA has improperly assigned an effective date to your claim, you have one year to appeal the claim by filing a Notice of Disagrement.  VA now requires, as of March 2015, that a Notice of Disagrement be filed on their official form.