You can get VA Disability if you can prove your disability has a direct service connection. The more disabilities you can link to your time in active duty, the more money you get per month. When the Veterans Administration reviews your application, there are three main elements that the VA is looking for.
In This Article About Proving Your Service-Connected Illness:
- What the VA Looks For in Proving Your Service-Connected Disability
- Service Connected Disabilities List
- Other Ways to Help your VA Rating Decision with Secondary Connections
- It’s Not Always Easy to Get VA Disability Pay
- A Fight This Big Needs Backup from Expert VA Disability Pros
- Make a Plan for Your VA Disability Ratings
- What Medical Evidence Do You Need to Claim VA Disability?
- Finding the Missing Piece of the VA Disability Puzzle
What the VA Looks For in Proving Your Service-Connected Disability
- Medical evidence of a current disability.
- Evidence of an in-service disease, injury or event.
- Medical evidence of a link between what your current disability and what happened to you in service.
A direct service connection had its onset in service. This disability started when you were enlisted. This can happen at any time during active duty– while on leave, during combat, basic training, etc. If you or your spouse was a service member when something happened that caused a physical or mental disability, that counts as a direct service connection.
Proving a direct service connection in a VA disability compensation case is different than proving a secondary service connection. A secondary service connection would be a downturn in your mental health that arose from a bad back injury suffered during service. If you are depressed about not being able to play with your grandkids because of your service-connected back pain, don’t always be the tough guy/gal! Make sure you make that depression, even if it is slight, clear on your VA Disability application.
Service Connected Disabilities List
It’s very difficult to put together a list of what all disabilities are automatically considered service-connected. We have compiled a shortlist here with links to more details on those claims. You will see on that list some non-medical terms like “Neck Pain,” and “Cancer Veterans Benefits.” If you are looking for something specific, you can use the search bar in the top right of this page or simply call us at 866-232-5777 and ask us for free.
The complete list can be found in Chapter 2 of the VA benefits book or on their site. Whenever you call Woods and Woods VA Disability Lawyers, we’ll also ask you a lot of questions to figure out if you qualify for any of these benefits. We’ll put your case and your symptoms through a whole possible list of service-connected disability claims so that you don’t miss out on anything you deserve.
Other Ways to Help your VA Rating Decision with Secondary Connections
All three of the above elements must be present to be considered a direct service connection. There are, however, some illnesses that are considered to be direct service-connected by presumption. These presumptive direct service connections include hypertension, diabetes mellitus, Parkinson’s disease, and exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.
If you can prove that you were in one of those areas during the designated time period, you are automatically presumed to have the associated disabilities.
For those claims, there are various time periods. Some have to have at least a 10% rating within a year of honorable discharge, for example. They all vary and are detailed on 38 CFR 3.309. This makes it a little bit easier to get disability for these claims since you don’t have to prove all three pieces.
Areas Qualifying for Presumptive Disabilities
- Vietnam Veterans
- Troops exposed to radiation
- Some Gulf War Veterans
- Some Afghanistan veterans
It’s Not Always Easy to Get VA Disability Pay
Sometimes the VA will say that your injury is not connected to your service. You might currently have a medical problem but you can’t link it to your active service. If your ankle has an obvious problem but you can’t prove it happened when you were deployed, the VA will deny your claim for ankle trauma rating.
It is important to keep in mind that having been diagnosed after your service doesn’t mean it can’t have a direct service connection. Some mental health disorders can lie undiagnosed for years. In many of these cases, a good description of life events at the time and statements from loved ones can help establish continuity from an in-service event to the present day.
It might be a long time since you had problems, but lay statements can connect the dots over the course of time. Letters telling mom that you went to talk to a shrink or service treatment records that mention you having some down days might be all you need to prove your depression that started in the service. One vet’s old girlfriend had a picture of him with his platoon and his disability was visible in the picture. After many denials and appeals, that picture proved his case and he was awarded a lot of back pay for his long struggle with the VA.
A Fight This Big Needs Backup from Expert VA Disability Pros
To establish these connections, you will need psychiatric testimony as well as an expert review of your service and post-service treatment records. We will also collect corroborating accounts from family and friends as to what has been happening to you since then. Be honest. If you have become addicted to drugs (legal or illegal), developed some anger or rage, are struck with anxiety attacks, or just act anti-social, we will include that in your claim.
When you get the Woods and Woods team behind you, you have a case manager that listens to the details of your time in service and your current medical/mental struggles. They then bring in our team of doctors, psychiatrists, lawyers, and more to plead your strongest case to the VA.
There are many examples of successful cases where veterans who have been diagnosed 10, 20, or even 30 years after the fact with a condition that was related to military service. You can still win that claim as you paint a full picture of how your life has been affected by your disability.
Make a Plan for Your VA Disability Ratings
Not everyone should go for 100% service-connected disability benefits. At the same time, we are familiar with which VA claims are more successful and which ones are more difficult to get. We can help you sort through what is and isn’t a non-service-connected disability and advise you on what to do about that. Sometimes the documentation we gather for your VA Disability claim can help you with your Social Security Insurance claim as well. We may refer you to a law firm that does Social Security Disability Insurance better than we do so that you can get the best help possible.
While we might not try to get 100% TDIU from the beginning with your claim, we will always look over your case to see if you will qualify. Many vets that call us don’t even realize how much they might be able to get rated for by the VA, but learn a lot from their free calls to our office. We can help identify if you are a good candidate for permanent and total disability, 100 percent TDIU, or just need to get your application started for something small.
If you are a veteran spouse and your veteran has passed away, we can still help you sort through the paperwork for a free DIC application. We won’t charge anyone for help until we win their case. Better than a money-back guarantee, we have a, “only pay when your case is won and done” guarantee.
What Medical Evidence Do You Need to Claim VA Disability?
Depending on your claim, different kinds of substantial and relevant evidence can be used. We say “substantial and relevant” because many people send their application to the VA with a confusing array of papers that don’t have to do with their specific claim. Don’t do that!
If your C-File has a report from a doctor during a sick call that mentions an injury and what caused it, that is the golden ticket you need for service connection.
Unfortunately, it’s not usually that clean cut.
You might need details from someone else in your unit to describe how you fell or got hurt. You might add in a lay statement from your mom or friends in high school, as well as a lay statement from your wife about how things were going last week.
You basically have to connect the dots from your current state of health back to your time as a service member. Back pain or an amputated foot from diabetes can both be traced back to a lot of things men and women experienced while serving their country. Creating a chain of events during service, doctors’ visits after discharge (even if years apart) and a holistic picture of your current situation all work together to convince a VA judge that you deserve a higher VA disability rating.
Finding the Missing Piece of the VA Disability Puzzle
There are 90,000 veterans that were only granted eligibility for being exposed to Agent Orange this year. They were exposed almost 50 years ago, but they were just granted benefits! This is just one example of why you should have an expert review your claim and appeal your denial every time you have some kind of new evidence.
Since the US Government is continually reviewing laws and granting new sets of Veterans eligibility, you want to keep up with the changing laws. There are some disabilities that might not be an obvious service connection, but they might be a clear secondary service connection. There are other injuries or conditions that qualify for SMC (Special Monthly Compensation) that the VA won’t automatically award you unless you ask for it.
Handwritten notes, medical histories, and proof of where and when you served all come together to build a strong case proving your disability is directly connected to your service. This helps you win your claim, appeal, or even earn permanent and total ratings.
Contact us at (866)232-5777 or start your claim here to get started and we’ll figure out the details of your service-connected disability rates. We have helped thousands of veterans straighten out their VA claims and get the decisions they deserve from the BVA.
You can if we can prove that your ankle pain is service-connected to your time in the military. Woods and Woods get a lot of questions like this and it always depends on what kind of evidence we can gather.
Yes, but just like you wouldn’t want an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist doing your knee replacement surgery, you don’t want someone unfamiliar with VA policies to send a report to the VA. Woods and Woods have doctors on staff that can look over your records and give the VA what they need to give you a better disability rating.
Yes, but make sure your appeal has some kind of new information or evidence in it. If a new law has passed that affects your claim, include references to that explaining why you should be approved. Don’t send the same pile of papers to the VA over and over again.
You should call Woods and Woods to talk about your disabilities. Some aren’t obvious but could be service-connected to your deployment, depending on who they are.