Continuity of Symptomatology Definition
VA outlines continuity of symptomatology in 38 CFR § 3.303(b). Generally speaking, veterans may qualify for service connection based on continuity of symptomatology if symptoms of a chronic condition have recurred regularly, without some intervening cause, since the time they left the military. Importantly, the symptoms must be present since the time you were in service, or since a short period of time after leaving the service, despite any intermittent periods of improvement.
Again, continuity of symptomatology is important when veterans have medical evidence of a current condition, but lack an in-service event. Therefore, veterans do not need an actual diagnosis of the condition during service. Instead, they only need to experience symptoms of the condition either from the time they were in service, or shortly after discharge.
For example, you experience back pain during service, and continue to experience it following discharge. After several years of receiving treatment for back pain, you are diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. Here, service connection based on continuity of symptomatology may be warranted.
To establish service connection based on continuity of symptomatology, you must demonstrate the following:
- Your disability is a chronic condition listed under 38 CFR § 3.309(a)
- Symptoms of the current disability were “noted” while you were in the military, or shortly after discharge
- These same symptoms have continued since separation from service
- A medical nexus (i.e., link) between the post-service symptoms and your current condition
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