If you are considering filing a VA mesothelioma claim for VA Disability Compensation or VA Pension, but will not be filing your VA Claim before the end of the current month, it is imperative that you submit an Intent to File (ITF) to preserve your back pay.

I’ll cover the ways you can file an ITF shortly, but first, let’s examine what an ITF actually does for you and why it’s a useful ally in the VA claims process. To understand this, you must first understand how the VA determines your back pay once your claim is approved.


Understanding Effective Date of Claim and Back Pay for VA Claims

When you file your claim, the VA establishes the date they receive your claim as the “effective date of claim.” The effective date of claim is used to determine your benefits eligibility date, and thus your back pay date.

This is how it works. Once your effective date of claim is established, your eligibility date will be the first day of the next month. But the VA always pays veterans one month in arrears. So, let’s look at an example.

Let’s assume I filed a VA disability claim for a veteran with mesothelioma on April 15. The effective date of claim will be that date, and the vet’s benefits eligibility date would be May 1.  Let’s assume the VA approves this claim on August 15.

The VA will back pay the veteran all the way back to May 1. But the vet’s May benefits aren’t actually paid until June 1 since the VA always pays your benefits for the previous month. Therefore, the VA owes this veteran VA disability payments for May through July. In other words, they owe the vet the payments that would have been paid on June 1, July 1 and August 1.

Therefore, the first payment they will receive after this claim has been approved will be for three months of VA disability compensation for mesothelioma.


Timing of Filing VA Claim Is Important

Now that you understand how the VA back-pays veterans, you can see it doesn’t matter when, in the current month, you file your claim because your benefits eligibility date will be the first day of the next month.  But if you can’t file your claim before the end of the month, you stand to lose an entire month’s worth of back pay by waiting until the next month to submit it.

This is where the ITF comes in. An ITF is simply any communication between you and the VA that expresses your intent to file a claim in the future. Once submitted, your ITF acts to establish your effective date of claim, and thus, your back pay date. It’s basically a placeholder for your back pay in order to give you time to gather all the necessary forms and documents you need to submit with your claim.

You then have up to a full year from the ITF submission date to submit your actual VA claim. But regardless of when you submit your actual claim in that year, once approved, the VA will back pay as if you actually submitted your claim on the date you filed your ITF.

To use the previous example, let’s say I submitted an ITF on April 15 but the claim wasn’t ready for submission until June 1st. Regardless of when the claim is approved, the effective date of this claim is still April 15 and the benefits eligibility date would be May 1. Had I not submitted an ITF for this veteran, his effective date of claim would have been June 1 and his benefits eligibility date would have been July 1 versus May 1. In other words, he would have missed out on two full months of disability compensation, which, for a mesothelioma claim would be over $6,600 in lost back pay.


Help Filing an ITF for Your Mesothelioma VA Claim

If you are considering filing a VA claim for an asbestos disease, and you want to preserve your back pay date, contact me and I can either send you instructions on how to file your ITF over the phone, or send you the ITF form that you can fill out. You can then mail that to the VA, or, if you need to get your ITF form filed quickly, you can send it to me and I can upload it to the VA online portal for you, which is instantaneous.  

As you can see, filing an ITF as soon as you decide to file a VA claim is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure you are paid all of the VA disability compensation or pension you are entitled to.

If you need any help or need some advice, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me anytime. You can reach LCDR Jewett by calling 844-838-6376 or by email at cjewett@mesotheliomaguide.com.


Frequently Asked Questions About VA Claims

  • Why are VA claims taking so long?

    There are several reasons why VA claims for mesothelioma can take longer than other types of claims. These include the complexity of the medical evidence required, the need for specialized training of VA staff, and the fact that mesothelioma usually develops decades after the veteran's military service. This fact requires the VA to determine if the veteran had more exposure in the military compared to their civilian jobs. However, VA has implemented a number of initiatives to reduce processing times and improve the quality of its decisions.
  • When to start durvalumab?

    Durvalumab is a type of immunotherapy treatment that is approved for patients with unresectable stage 3 non-small cell lung cancer. It is usually given after concurrent chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The decision to start durvalumab should be made by a medical professional after a thorough evaluation of the patient's condition and treatment history.
  • When does VA disability pay start?

    VA disability pay eligibility starts on the first day of the month following the month in which the VA receives your application. However, veterans who need time to prepare their claim can preserve their back pay date by filing an Intent to File (ITF) with the VA. The ITF can be accomplished by calling the VA, submitting a VA Form 21-0966, or by starting a claim online.
  • Where can i find my VA intent to file?

    The VA Form 21-0966 Intent to File should be mailed to the VA Claims Intake Center at:

    PO BOX 5235
    JANESVILLE, WI 53547-5235

  • Where to mail intent to file VA form?

    The amount of VA disability pay varies depending on the severity of the condition and level of disability. For veterans with active mesothelioma, the VA disability rating is 100%.
  • Where to file a VA claim?

    To file an intent to file with the VA for mesothelioma, you can submit VA Form 21-0966, Intent to File a Claim for Compensation and/or Pension, Survivors Pension, or Other Benefits. This form serves as notice to the VA of your intent to file a claim for benefits related to your mesothelioma diagnosis. You have one year from submitting the intent to file form to submit your formal claim for benefits.
  • How much does VA disability pay?

    VA disability provides tax-free compensation to veterans who have been injured or developed an illness as a result of their military service. The amount of compensation is based on the severity of the condition and how much it affects the veteran's ability to work and carry out daily activities. To receive VA disability, a veteran must file a claim and provide evidence of their condition and its connection to their military service. The VA will then review the claim and determine the appropriate compensation.
  • How to file an intent to file with the VA?

    The time it takes to receive VA back pay for a mesothelioma claim can vary depending on several factors, such as the complexity of the case and the backlog of claims at the VA. It may take several months to over a year to receive back pay. It's best to consult with a VA claims agnet for a more accurate estimate.
  • How to file VA intent to file online?

    The amount of VA disability pay varies based on the severity of the service-connected disability. For mesothelioma, the VA awards a disability rating of 100%. As of Dec 2022, a veteran with no dependents awarded a 100% rating receives $3,621.95 per month, while a married veteran would receive $3,823.89 per month. However, the amount could be higher for veterans with additional dependents or if the veteran is housebound or in need of the aid and attendance of another person to perform activities of daily living.
  • How to file a VA claim online?

    There is no specific number for how many VA disability claims for mesothelioma are approved, as the VA does not publish this data. However, for veterans who clearly have more military exposure than civilian occupational exposure, the approval rate is nearly 100%.
  • How to check on VA disability claim?

    VA disability compensation is paid on a monthly basis. The frequency of payment is determined by the VA's payment schedule, which can be found on their website.
  • How VA disability works?

    To receive a 100% disability rating from the VA, you must have a medical condition that meets the VA's criteria for total disability. For mesothelioma and lung cancer, veterans are always awarded a 100% rating unless they are in remission and have not received any treatment in over 6 months.
  • How long to get VA back pay?

    There is no set amount for army disability pay as it varies depending on the individual's disability rating and length of service. The VA uses a formula to calculate the amount of compensation based on the severity of the disability.
  • How much does VA disability pay?

    The VA processing time for mesothelioma claims varies depending on several factors such as the complexity of the case, the amount of evidence provided, and the current backlog of claims. Typically, it takes on average 104 days from the date of submission to the redndering of a decision. However, veterans over the age of 85 or those with terminal mesothelioma can apply for expedited processing.
  • How many VA disability claims are approved?

    To qualify for VA disability, you need to have a current diagnosis and evidence that links your condition to your military service. Mesothelioma claims simply require medical evidence of the disease (usually, a biopsy report is required) and evidence that the you were exposed to more asbestos in the military than in your civilian jobs. You will need to file a claim with the VA and provide supporting evidence to show that your mesothelioma was primarly caused by your military service. It is recommended to work with a VA claims specialist to ensure your claim is handled properly.
  • How often is VA disability compensation paid?

    Veterans can only file one intent to file per benefit category (e.g. disability compensation or pension). After filing an intent to file for a benefit category, and then submitting a completed claim, that intent to file is no longer active, and another intent must be filed for a new claim in that benefit category.
  • How do you get 100% disability from the VA?

    A VA intent to file is a formal notice that someone plans to file a claim for benefits with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It is a way for veterans or their families to initiate the claims process and secure the effective date of claim, which is used to determine back pay. The actual claim must be submitted within one year of the intent to file in order for back pay to be paid based on the date of the intent to file.
  • How much is army disability pay?

    A VA claims agent is a professional who assists veterans in filing claims for benefits with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). They are trained and accredited by the VA to provide guidance and support to veterans throughout the claims process. Their goal is to help veterans receive the benefits they are entitled to for their service-related conditions.
  • How long does the VA take to process a claim?

    As a veteran, you may be eligible for disability compensation from the VA for any condition that was caused by, or exacerbated by your military service. The amount of compensation you receive depends on the severity of your disability and how it affects your ability to work. You may also be eligible for other benefits, such as healthcare, vocational rehabilitation, and housing assistance. It's important to speak with a VA claims agent who can guide you through the process and help you understand all of your options.
  • How to qualify for VA disability?

    VA disability compensation is a tax-free monthly payment made to veterans who were injured or became ill while serving in the military. The compensation amount is based on the severity of the disability and how much it affects the veteran's ability to work and perform daily activities. Veterans with mesothelioma may be eligible for VA disability compensation if they can show that their illness was primarly caused by asbestos exposure during their military service.
  • What does inactive intent to file mean?

  • What is intent to file VA?

  • What is a VA claims agent?

  • What can you claim for VA disability?

  • What is VA disability compensation?

    Sources & Author

Picture of Retired LCDR Carl Jewett, VA Claims Agent

About the Writer, Retired LCDR Carl Jewett, VA Claims Agent

LCDR Carl Jewett is a retired Naval Officer who serves as the Veterans Department Director and Patient Services Director at Mesothelioma Guide. He is a VA-Accredited Claims Agent with more than 14 years of experience filing asbestos-related VA claims. He has helped over 1400 veterans who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses get approved for VA Disability Compensation, VA Pension, and/or Aid & Attendance benefits. Because veteran’s are also entitled to compensation through the legal system, Carl has communicated with many mesothelioma law firms across the country. He has gained extensive knowledge of asbestos trust funds, mesothelioma lawsuits, settlements, and the claims process. He provides both veterans and civilians with information regarding their legal options.