To be eligible for VA disability benefits, you must have a service-connected illness or injury. Proving your disability is connected to your military service can be accomplished in several different ways.
How to Prove You Have a Service-Connected Disability
There are five different methods that can be used to establish that a disability is connected to military service. Choosing the appropriate method requires considering the nature of your condition and your health before you entered the military. The following is a brief overview:
- Direct connection. For a direct connection to be established, there must be clear evidence of an incident that is linked to your resulting injury. For example, if a Veteran breaks his back and is paralyzed from the waist down, there is a direct connection between the broken back and the paralysis.
- Pre-existing condition aggravated by military service. If you suffered from a condition before enlisting that was made worse by your military service, it must be noted on your original medical exam and you must provide evidence of how your condition was affected by your service. Mental health conditions that were made worse by the stress of military service are one example of this type of connection.
- Presumed connection. The VA allows for a presumed connection in certain specific cases. The most common example of a presumed connection involves disabilities related to Agent Orange exposure during the Vietnam War. Another example would be someone who develops Parkinson’s disease or experiences seizure with no other identifiable cause after suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to military service.
- Secondary service connection. A secondary service connection means that one service-connected disability is the cause of a second disability. For example, Veterans exposed to Agent Orange are allowed a presumed connection for type II diabetes. If a Veteran later develops peripheral neuropathy as a result of the type II diabetes, this condition has a secondary service connection.
- Injury caused by VA medical treatment. If you are injured as the result of care received at a VA health center, your injury is automatically considered service-connected.
Legal Representation Is Vital
The office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, can help you establish how to best document your disability and establish its service connection. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation at our Boulder, Colorado office.