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Intent to File VA: Secure Effective Date & Retroactive Pay

Disclaimer: This Blog is to used for informational purposes only. It should not be misconstrued as providing legal or medical advice. Please consult with your legal representative or physician for advice relevant to your situation.

Bottom Line Up Front:

Many veterans don’t know about this process called the “Intent to File.” We’ll discuss what the Intent to File is and three reasons why I believe every veteran should consider submitting it.

  • Veterans can potentially secure retroactive VA disability benefits from an earlier effective date by using the Intent to File process before officially filing a claim.
  • By submitting an Intent to File, veterans lock in an effective date. They have up to a year to gather supporting evidence.
  • The Intent to File process is simple and straightforward. Veterans can complete it online, by mail, phone, or in person. It’s an accessible option for all.

Understanding the VA Intent to File: A Guide for Veterans

What if I told you there was a way to set the potential start date for receiving VA disability benefits and possibly get retroactive pay before filing a VA disability claim? Would you do it? Of course you would!

What is the Intent to File?

The Intent to File notifies the VA of your intentions to file a VA disability claim within 12 months. According to, “An intent to file sets a potential start date (or effective date) for your benefits. If you notify us of your intent to file and we approve your claim, you may get retroactive payments.”

What happens after I submit my intent to file?

Once you submit your intent to file, the VA will send a notification letter stating that they have received your intent to file. The notification letter will have a date listed, called the effective date. The effective date for a direct service connection claim, for example, “is the date we receive your claim or the date you were first injured or first fell ill.”

Why Every Veteran Should Consider Submitting One

1. Protects Your Effective Date and Potential Retroactive Pay

By submitting an Intent to File, you protect your effective date, which can result in significant retroactive pay if your claim is approved. This means you won’t lose out on any benefits you are entitled to from the date you first indicated your intent to file.

Consider this real-life example: A veteran who began gathering evidence for his PTSD claim in January 2023 but didn’t submit his VA disability application until January 2024 missed out on over $45,000 in retroactive pay. Had he filed an Intent to File in January 2023, his benefits would have been backdated to that date, resulting in a substantial amount of additional compensation

2. Allows Time for Thorough Evidence Collection

Gathering all the necessary evidence for a VA disability claim can be a time-consuming process. The Intent to File procedure gives you a full year to collect and organize your documents without the pressure of an immediate deadline, allowing you to build a stronger case.

*Pro-Tip: Some veterans gather their medical records and may not thoroughly review them. Take the time to do so. If you need any assistance with understanding the medical jargon, reach out to us.

3. Simple and Quick with No Downside

The process of submitting an Intent to File is straightforward and can be completed in just a few minutes. There’s no downside or risk to taking this step, and it could potentially yield significant financial benefits. Here are four ways that you can file:

Prepare Your Medical Records For VA Disability Inspection


By understanding and leveraging the Intent to File process, you can give yourself the best chance of maximizing your VA disability benefits and receiving the compensation you’ve earned through your service. Don’t leave money on the table – submit your Intent to File as soon as you know you want to file a claim. * Pro-Tip: TRUST BUT VERIFY & GET ORGANIZED! Remember to keep copies of any documents you submit and any notification you receive concerning your effective date.

Reviewing your medical records can be a daunting task. We recommend that you do so before you start the VA disability process. Book your free 30 minute medical record strategy prep call today!Book a free medical record review call Check out our video tutorial for guidance on filling out and submitting the form.