Understanding Proof in the Appeals Process
Deciding to dispute your denied veterans disability claim can be a tough decision. Although you may have feelings of doubt, many appeals are approved, and those who work with a skilled attorney have an even higher success rate. Often times, the VA will deny Veterans on many of the medical issues they claim are service connected.
How Can I Prove There is a Link Between My Health Condition and Military Service?
Applying for VA disability benefits can be challenging, and a favorable decision in your claim depends on proof that your health conditions are service-connected. There are a few ways in which you can establish a connection depending on your circumstances. The following are the four main theories of service connection and their methods of proof. Knowing the different theories of connection are critical to properly filing your claims.
Keep in mind that in order to be service-connected for a medical issue, a Veteran must typically prove that they have an in-service event, a current diagnosis, and a nexus or connection between those two things.
Direct Service Connection
A direct service connection means that the veteran's disability is directly related to their military service. In order to receive benefits for direct service connection, you must:
● Show that you developed the condition or incurred an injury during service.
● Prove that your current condition or injury is connected via a nexus to your service
Documentation from your time in service that shows you were injured or became ill due to your military service may include medical records, treatment records, or service personnel records, lay statements from Veterans, buddy statements from fellow service members, and statements from family members as well.
Presumptive Service Connection
If you served in the military in certain geographical locations during certain time periods, you may be eligible for benefits if you can show that your condition is "presumed" to be service-connected.
Conditions that are presumed to be service-connected include but are not limited to:
● Developed during active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, and conditions developed within 1 year of exiting the service.
● Are related to radiation exposure.
● Are related to Agent Orange exposure. Agent Orange exposure
● Are related to Gulf War service. Gulf War service.
● Are related to Burn Pit Exposure.
If you have a condition that is presumed to be service-connected, you don't have to prove that there is a nexus between your current condition and your military service.
Secondary Service Connection
Secondary service connection means that a separate medical condition is linked to an already existing service-connected disability. For example, you have a service-connected disability for your left foot, and it causes you to limp significantly on your right side, so you claim that your right foot is service-connected secondary to your left foot. To receive benefits for a secondary service connection disability, you must show:
● Your current diagnosis of the secondary disability
● Medical proof of the link between the service-connected disability and the secondary disability. This is often in the form of a medical nexus opinion.
Aggravated Service Connection
If you have a pre-existing condition made worse by your military service, you may be eligible for benefits. This is called "aggravation."
To get benefits for an aggravated condition, you will need to show two things:
● That you had the condition before you entered service
● That your military service made the condition worse
You will also need to show a nexus, or link, between your aggravated condition and your military service.
How Can I Make Sure My Claim is Successful?
When preparing to submit a VA claim, working with an attorney you trust is the best way to ensure a high success rate and knows how to navigate aspects of proving your service connection to your illness. With years of experience in cases like yours, our attorneys will be able to guide you through the process and ensure you have the required information supporting a solid claim. Read on to learn how to get your VA Disability appeal started.
Interested in Speaking with an Attorney About Your VA Disability Appeal?
Feeling discouraged about your denied veterans claim is expected, so it's important to make the right decisions when taking the steps when submitting an appeal. It's always beneficial to speak with an attorney as soon as possible, even if you aren't ready to commit fully. An attorney will be able to review your case and provide you with the proper legal advice.
With Affleck & Gordon on your side, you can rest assured you will have all the resources you need for a successful claim. Our dedicated attorneys will work with you one-on-one every step to get you the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today at (404) 990-3945 or visit us online to schedule your free consultation with one of our award-winning attorneys today.