How Is Service Connection Established for VA Disability

Service connection is the legal requirement in the United States to provide benefits to veterans with disabilities. The reported health problems must be job-related and consistent with military Service. Service connection is also required abroad where U.S. servicemen and women serve.

To establish a service connection for a disability, the applicant must provide clear documentation supporting the claim. It helps to have a medical record of the illness issued during or immediately after the service. However, there may be other ways as well to prove service connection. A VA benefits lawyer can help you explore the options available to you.

What Will It Take to Establish a Service Connection for VA Disability?

If the illness or disability was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty during active military service, you may have grounds for VA benefits. There are five main ways to prove service connection. An attorney can help you identify the best path for your case.

Direct Service Connection

This is one of the most common types of service-connected disability used by applicants. In this case, the illness or disability can be traced directly to your time in service. For example, the veteran might have lost a limb in an explosion during their service or developed cancer after exposure to Agent Orange.

Presumptive Service Connection

If the VA presumes a connection between the veteran’s condition and active duty, this qualifies as a presumptive service connection. If you were diagnosed within one year after leaving service, this is the path you will likely pursue.

The following conditions may fall under a presumptive service connection:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart conditions
  • Digestive disorders
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Migraines

Secondary Service Connection

An applicant can qualify for a secondary service connection only after a valid direct service connection. It is not mandatory for the condition under secondary service connection to occur during active duty; however, it must link to another disability or illness associated with service.

For example, if you were diagnosed with diabetes during your service and after leaving the service, you were also diagnosed with digestive issues; the latter may fall under secondary service connection.

Aggravation of a Before-Service Disability

The entrance exam should document any health conditions before active service. If your illness has worsened during your service years, you may receive benefits under the aggravation of a before-service disability.

Injuries Caused by the VA Health Care System

If you have evidence of an injury or illness that can be traced back to the VA healthcare system, you may receive benefits. In fact, you may receive financial support if you report a new condition incurred due to VA medical care or if a pre-existing condition was aggravated.

Navigating the VA Benefits Process

A VA benefits attorney can also help you navigate through the process. The steps you have to take depend on the specifics of your case. A lawyer can offer you a personalized guideline after reviewing your claim.

Step 1: Wait for VA Approval or Rejection

The VA may choose to approve your application or reject it. This can take time, so veterans should be patient while waiting for their claims to be processed.

Step 2: Appeal a Denial

If the veteran’s claim is denied, they have the right to appeal that decision within 30 days after receiving notice of denial from the VA, the veteran must file an appeal with the local Regional Office. Once an appeal is filed, the veteran may receive an administrative review from a Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

Step 3: Go to Court

If your claim is denied and they do not appeal the decision first, a Kentucky VA disability attorney can handle your case; they will file a lawsuit in federal court and fight for your justice. The attorney files a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the district of your current residence. That they must do within 60 days of being notified that the V.A denied their claim.

Is There Anything You Can Do to Speed up the Process?

The process for accessing VA disability benefits takes time, so arm yourself with patience. The VA will review the application and all supporting documents and decide on your claim. However, there are ways to increase your chances of getting approved for benefits and possibly speed up the process.

Working with a specialized attorney from the start can ensure that all the paperwork is filled out correctly and filed properly the first time. A lawyer can guide you through each step of the claims process and help convey your story.

Never Give up Hope

Filing a claim with the VA is not an easy task, but it is necessary. A VA disability benefits attorney can work alongside the applicant in pursuit of financial aid. Collaborating with a lawyer can simplify the process and make the final goal more attainable.

About the author: Kerry L. Tucker

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Early in his journalism college years, Kerry had a revelation: there were not nearly enough law communicators. Peoples’ difficulties in understanding the law, procedures, and how the justice system worked stemmed from the fact that no one took the patience to explain complicated matters to them. Therefore, he took upon him the task of helping people navigate legal matters easier. He works with attorneys and other legal journalists, and spends time doing research so that everyone – from a mother whose child got a bike injury to a company needing insurance counsel – to find the actionable answers they are looking for.

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