Three things to know when filing a disability claim with the VA

Service in the United States military isn’t without its hazards. Much of the equipment used is built with more concern for mission effectiveness than service members’ comfort and safety. Unlike civilians who can file for workman’s compensation resulting from workplace injuries, former service members have U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability. When filing a disability claim with the VA, here are three things veterans needs to demonstrate:

1. Current diagnosed chronic medical condition

A chronic disability for VA compensation purposes is a reoccurring or continuous condition. Examples of chronic conditions include traumatic arthritis, cancer, ALS, or the most common injury among service members: hearing loss.

2. In-service incident

The in-service incident is related to an event that occurred during the service member’s time in the military. The idea is for the event to in some way be related to the current chronic injury. Examples of this may be a broken leg, exposure to asbestos, or service in Vietnam or Iraq.

3. Connection between the in-service event and current medical condition

The link (or nexus) between the current chronic medical condition and the in-service event ties everything together. A diagnosis of traumatic arthritis can be linked to the broken leg, and hearing loss can be linked to service on a flight line. In some cases, the VA provides the nexus by presuming if in-service event ‘X’ occurred then chronic medical condition ‘Y’ may occur. For instance, Vietnam veterans are presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange. Therefore, if affected service members develop any number of conditions the VA will grant disability. Any veteran who served at least 90 consecutive active duty days in the military who later develops ALS is presumed by the VA to have developed the condition as a result of military service. Important to note: if you believe you have a medical condition which may be related to military service, the VA recommends you work with an accredited veterans service officer.

“Everyone is a unique individual,” said Michael A. Iwanicki, superintendent of the McHenry County Veterans Assistance Commission. “Beware of the cookie-cutter promises of ways to get service-connected compensation from the VA.”

Veterans Assistance Commission : 667 Ware Road : Woodstock, IL 60098 : 815.334.4229