Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions

The second type of military service connection is an aggravated pre-existing condition. This occurs when you have an injury or disease at the time that you enter military service and that condition was made worse while in the service.

There is a presumption of soundness that benefits the veteran.  In other words, it is presumed that the veteran was healthy at the time of enlistment.  The VA must overcome this presumption to argue that your current condition is preexisting.  Even if it is preexisting, if it is shown that the condition worsened during military service, the veteran will be entitled to veteran disability benefits associated with the worsened condition.

In the even that the condition occurred during service and qualifies under direct service connection, there is no need to prove the aggravation of a preexisting injury or illness.  However, if medical or military entry records indicate a preexisting condition, then it must be shown that the condition was worsened by military service and the current disability is not the result of the natural progression of the injury, illness or disease.

The most common way to demonstrate a pre-existing condition is if there were records of treatment for the condition prior to your military service or if the condition is noted in your entrance medical exam.  As mentioned, it must also be shown with medical documentation or medical opinion that your pre-existing condition got worse while you were in the military and as a result of military service.  It is not enough the condition simply worsened during military service as part of the natural process of the injury disease or illness.

Keep in mind, as always, the benefit of the doubt is supposed to go to the veteran.  This means that the VA must consider all medical or other evidence submitted by the veteran and also has a duty to assist which means that the veteran is entitled to a free VA medical opinion if necessary to substantiate his or her claim.

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