One of the first steps to getting your disability compensation is determining if your condition is service connected.
A service connected disability is a condition or injury that can be medically proven to have incurred or been aggravated by time in the military.
If you are a veteran, think about any condition, injury, or traumatic life event that may have been worsened or caused by your service. Chances are that this event you experienced, or currently experience, can be tied back to your time in service.
The question to answer now is: how will it be proven to the VA?
The VA has established several categories to prove service connected disabilities. It’s important for every veteran to understand these categories so they don’t miss a disability that they could be getting compensated for.
1. Direct Service Connection
A disability claim that is directly related to military service.
A direct service connected disability claim should include the following 3 components to ensure the greatest likelihood of being accepted:
- Current medical evidence of a medical condition or disease
- Past medical or lay evidence that shows an injury or condition occurred during service
- Credible evidence that connects the current disability to an event that occurred in service.
Note that all of these components are not required to prove a direct service connected disability, but having all 3 will strengthen your claim.
Examples of Direct Service Connected Disabilities:
- Combat veterans who suffer from PTSD
- Paralysis from a parachute landing
- Back injuries from lifting or carrying heavy items
2. Presumed or Presumptive Service Connection
A chronic disability that the VA recognizes was caused during military service.
Note that most veterans may not have experienced the effects of these conditions while in service, but the veteran was still being exposed to it. If you are a veteran who began experiencing a chronic condition within 365 days after your release date, you should consider applying for compensation.
For a full list of the presumptive conditions that the VA recognizes, please see below.
3. Aggravated Claims/Preexisting Injuries
An issue detected during the military entrance physical (because the condition existed before service) that becomes an underlying disability due to aggravation by service.
Example of a Preexisting Injury:
- A skin condition worsened by chemicals
4. Injuries Caused by VA Treatment
An injury that occurred while being treated for a service-connected disability under VA care.
If a veteran is hurt while at a VA hospital or another facility, then the veteran is entitled to disability compensation that is classified as service-connected. These benefits are commonly referred to Section 1151 benefits from title 38 of the United States Code of veteran’s law.
5. Secondary Service Connections
A condition that develops as a result of having a primary service connected disability.
A secondary claim is a disability that is caused or worsened by the symptoms of an already existing service connected claim.
Examples of Secondary Service Conditions:
- High blood pressure caused from sleep apnea
- Headaches secondary to cervical spine injuries
- Hypertension secondary to Agent Orange diabetes claim
- IBS secondary to PTSD
There are several different ways to achieve service connected compensation from the VA. Before starting your claim with the VA, think about how your condition fits into the categories we discussed above.
A lot of veterans experience health issues that doctors have a hard time finding the cause, but most doctors don’t think to ask you about your time in service. Be proactive with your health by always considering how your time in service may affect your health now.
If you have any questions about a condition or how to be granted service connection for your disability, we encourage you to give us a call at Strategic Veteran. We are a veteran-run company aiming to share our resources, completely free! Call 800-761-9004 today.