Service Connected Disability

A “service-related” or frequently called “service connected” disability is an illness or injury that was acquired or made worse due to your service in the military. A large portion of the VA Disability Compensation application and appeals process involves proving the connection between one’s in-service injury, disease or incident and one’s present disability.

Once it is shown that the individual is a veteran, there are a number proof requirements to show a injury or illness is service connected.  First, the veteran must show that he or she currently suffers from a illness or injury (a disability).  This must almost always be proven with medical evidence. The VA has a duty to assist the veteran and must provide a free VA medical examination upon request.

Next, the veteran must show that the injury or illness arises out of or occurred during military service.  This will require a review of the veteran’s personnel and medical records.  However, since these records are not always complete, lay evidence such as witness statements can be presented and must be considered by the VA.  The standards of proof are lessened for combat veterans.

Finally, a link between the current illness or injury and military service must be shown.  In other words, the current disability must be tied to some injury, incident, event, or other circumstances related to the veteran’s time in the military.  These are referred to as service connections.  There are five different types of service connections, which include direct, aggravated pre-existing, presumptive, secondary, and VA torts.   Each of these is deserving of its own discussion and will be discussed in the pages to come.

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