Veterans filing an original fully developed claim (FDC) for service-connected disability compensation may be entitled to up to one year of retroactive benefits. The retroactive benefits, which are in effect through Aug. 5, 2015, are designed to help reduce the VA claims backlog. Only veterans who are submitting their first compensation claim as an FDC are potentially eligible for retroactive disability benefits.
“The VA strongly encourages veterans to work with veterans service organizations to file fully developed claims and participate in this initiative, since it means more money in eligible veterans’ pockets simply by providing the VA the information it needs up front,” said Undersecretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey. “At the same time, it helps reduce the inventory of pending claims by speeding the process.”
Washington Headquarters Executive Director Garry Augustine said that filing an FDC is often the fastest way for veterans to get a decision on their claims because they must provide all the supporting evidence the VA needs to rate their claims. “That’s why it is so important for veterans to get help from a National Service Officer to make sure everything the process requires is provided to the VA. Our NSOs know all the ins and outs of the process and will make sure the veteran’s claim is complete.”
When veterans submit all the necessary evidence with their claims, it can cut in half the time it takes for a traditionally filed claim. The VA also assigns FDCs a higher priority than other claims and continues to prioritize other specific categories of claims, including those for veterans who are seriously wounded, terminally ill, Medal of Honor recipients, former prisoners of war, homeless or experiencing extreme financial hardship.
Earlier this year, the VA announced the Community of Practice, a new partnership with veterans service organizations, including DAV, to help reduce the claims backlog by increasing the number of FDCs filed by veterans and their advocates. The VA also launched an initiative to expedite disability compensation claims decisions for veterans who have waited a year or longer.
Veterans can learn more about their disability benefits on the joint Department of Defense–VA web portal eBenefits, www.ebenefits.va.gov, and the FDC program at www.benefits.va.gov/fdc/.