Some veterans do not have any problems proving that they have a disability that stems from their service in the US military. After all, some disabilities like amputations are so obvious, it makes them easy to prove.
Again, most veterans have no difficulty explaining and proving the events that led to their disability. However, problems can start when veterans attempt to connect their current disability to the time they served in the US military.
The VA will never let you in on the laws and guidelines on how to prove if your disability is service-connected. Their website provides almost nothing in regards to that. That is why in this article, we have shared a few different ways you can prove to the VA that your disability is connected to your time in service and that you are eligible for VA disability compensation.
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Direct Service Connection
The most common and straightforward way to prove that your current disability is connected to your time in service is through direct service connection. Usually, there are two ways to do this. First, have a medical professional examine and give expert testimony on nature and relationship with your disability and military service.
Typically, the VA will ask for a C&P examination. Unfortunately, the bureaucracy involved in the C&P system will not act in your favour. This leaves you with the option of obtaining a private medical opinion to give you a winning edge.
In the second instance, you can prove that your disability is service-connected without medical expert backup. You have to show continuous symptomatology, a process that proves you have continuous symptoms of your disability that stems from service and was fully diagnosed. The only downside to this is that the VA and BVA tend to disregard this theory, and it can take several years of appeal to the CAVC before your claim is fully ascertained.
Secondary Service Connection
The second way to prove the relationship between your disability and military service is by showing a connection between a medical condition connected to service and a second disability. The aim is to show that the first service-connected disability caused the current disability. You will need expert medical testimony for you to prove this.
Connection Due to Aggravation
This is another form of secondary service connection. A veteran will need to prove that the initial disability they suffered from the time they served in the US military had worsened an underlying disability they had which is not connected to service.
For instance, if you tend to suffer from frequent back pains, you can argue that a service-connected spinal injury has aggravated your initial condition beyond natural progression. You will need both medical and lay evidence to make this claim.
Presumptive Service Connection
Establishing a service connection details proving the relationship between your current disability and your service in the army. However, there are instances where this relationship is considered presumptive. There can be the legal presumption or presumption of aggravation or soundness.
There are also specific laws that require the VA to presume that your service in the army is related to your current disability. These laws are:
- Year 1 presumptions: Some connections are presumed to be service-connected if they have reached a certain degree deemed compensable with the first 12 months of service.
- Radiation exposure: The presumed relationship between the service connection and the current disability.
- The Gulf War Syndrome: The Agent Orange Exposure and the Camp Lejeune are other aspects of presumptions.
Connection Due to VA Medical Malpractice
The last option to use in establishing that your current disability is related to your military service is not directly connected to your time in the service. If you sustain fatal or catastrophic injuries under VA medical care, the subsequent injuries or disability will be deemed service-connected. Medical malpractice is contained in Section 1151 claims and can be very complex, hence obtaining legal intervention may be necessary.