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 email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions About Intent to File VA Claims
How to Submit an Intent to File With the VA
Filing an ITF can be accomplished by either calling the VA or submitting a one page Intent to File VA Form. If you have an account setup with the va.gov website, you can also start a claim online. Simply starting a claim online will automatically notify the VA of your intent to file a claim.
What happens if I file an ITF but then decide not to file a VA claim?
Easy. You don’t do anything. After one year, the VA will send you a letter stating that they never received your VA claim and they will close out the ITF. So no harm, no foul on filing an ITF but never filing the claim.
What if I intend to file a claim for a disability, file an ITF, and then decide to file a claim for a different disability instead?
Not a problem. When you file an ITF, the VA will want to know what benefit you intend to file for, but not the actual disability. So filing an ITF for disability compensation means you have a year to file a claim for any disability you believe to be service-related, even if you weren’t diagnosed with that disability until after you filed your ITF.
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