The first, and most straightforward type of military service connection is direct service connection. This is when your in-service injury, disease or incident is shown to have directly caused your medical condition for which you are seeking veteran disability benefits.
This requires a showing through military service records, personnel records or medical records that the current condition was either manifested or diagnosed during service or that an incident that occurred during military service eventually caused the current disability.
The first case is significantly easier to prove where injury was diagnosed or otherwise manifested itself during service. An example of direct service connection would be if you were to lose a limb while in the service and now are making a disability claim for the loss of the use of that limb.
The second where there is delayed direct connection is a little more difficult and will typically require a medical opinion linking the current condition with military service. The most common piece of medical evidence used to demonstrate a direct service connection is a “nexus” letter from your medical provider.
The nexus letter is very important in delayed direct service connection type cases. It is very important that your doctor clearly state in the nexus letter that he or she reviewed your veteran’s file and service medical records and that it is either “more likely than not” or “as likely as not” that the in service injury, disease or incident caused your present medical disability.
The language “as likely as not” required in the nexus letter is very important to the veteran since it lays out the burdens of proof. In the case of veteran’s disability benefit rulings, the benefit of the doubt is supposed to be with the veteran. It is important to keep this in mind as you move through the benefits process.