Veterans who served in Afghanistan have higher than average rates of developing certain types of illnesses. As a result, they may be eligible for a presumptive service connection when they apply for disability benefits.
A presumptive service connection means that you do not need to submit proof that your illness was caused by your military service. You only need to submit documentation showing the severity of your condition.
Qualifying for a Presumptive Service Connection
Veterans who served in Afghanistan can qualify for a presumptive service connection if their illness started while they were on active duty or after September 19, 2001, and resulted in a 10% or higher disability rating.
The following conditions are eligible if a Veteran was diagnosed within one year of their date of separation from service:
- Brucellosis. This rare bacterial infection is characterized by fever, cough, body pain, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
- Campylobacter jejuni. This food-borne bacterial infection can lead to complications such as Guillain–Barré syndrome and reactive arthritis.
- Coxiella burnetii (Q fever). This infection is mild in most cases, but can resurface years later and lead to heart, liver, lung, or brain damage.
- Malaria. A flu-like illness, malaria can lead to complications including breathing problems and organ failure.
- Nontyphoid salmonella. Salmonella bacteria cause food poisoning, but can lead to complications such as meningitis, osteomyelitis, or septic arthritis.
- Shigella. Most often associated with severe diarrhea, shigella infection is one of the top pathogenic causes of reactive arthritis.
- West Nile virus. This disease is transmitted by mosquitos and can lead to ongoing problems with the central nervous system for certain individuals.
These conditions are eligible for a presumptive service connection if they were diagnosed at any time following your separation from service.
- Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Although this condition most often affects the lungs, TB bacteria can attack the kidney, spine, and brain—leading to significant impairment. People with diabetes face an increased risk of complications.
- Visceral leishmaniasis. This chronic systemic disease is linked to respiratory and gastrointestinal problems.
We’re Here to Help
Qualifying for a presumptive service connection is intended to ease the process of applying for VA disability benefits, but you may still struggle to obtain a rating that fully compensates you for your condition. If you need assistance accessing the benefits you’ve earned in service of your country, contact our office to request a free, no-obligation consultation.