Service Connection for Veterans
We’ve already discussed the obvious cases of service connected disability—where a current disability is caused by a service-related illness or injury. But not every VA disability claim has to involve something quite that direct. There are a few other ways that you can make the connection to your time in service.
There is something called ”service connection by aggravation.” If you had a medical condition when you entered the military, then there should be a record of that from your entrance physical examination (which should, of course, be in your all important C-File). If that condition got worse while you were in the service, you have a potential service connection by aggravation.
As an example, let’s say at the time you entered the military, your physical showed you had some minor hearing loss. Let’s say it was not bad enough to keep you from joining the military, but it was sufficient to be recorded in your entrance examination files. As veteran, you’ve been suffering from an even higher degree of hearing loss. That could be a case for service connection by aggravation.
Of course, as with other situations, the VA could rebut the presumption of aggravation. Continuing our example, the VA might argue that your hearing loss is worse because that’s just what happens as one ages–that it’s not aggravation but rather due to natural processes.
There is good news. Generally speaking, the rule is that, “Clear and unmistakable evidence…is required to rebut the presumption of aggravation where the pre-service disability underwent an increase in severity during service.” What that means is that it’s the VA’s responsibility to prove that it WASN’T because of your service. The bad news is that the VA isn’t perfect; they can make mistakes regarding the presumptions of aggravation.
The Key Point
The key point here is that you shouldn’t think that just because you had a medical problem BEFORE joining the military that it will derail your claim. The specifics of your case do matter. Since we’re talking about the VA and complicated rules and regulations, the reality is that for every rule there are all kinds of exceptions. Those exceptions could work for you or against you. The best thing you can do if you think your denied claim might be a case of service connection by aggravation is to contact a qualified attorney.
We at the Law Offices of Maurice L. Abarr have the necessary skills to help you. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation.