Presumption of Soundness Definition
The presumption of soundness (see 38 USC § 1111) states, “every veteran shall be taken to have been in sound condition when examined, accepted, and enrolled for service” except when a defect, illness, or disorder is noted on the veteran’s entrance exam, or “where clear and unmistakable evidence demonstrates that the injury or disease existed before acceptance and enrollment and was not aggravated by such service.”
Essentially, this means that a veteran is presumed to be healthy upon entering service except when there is clear and unmistakable evidence to the contrary, or a condition is noted upon entering service. Importantly, the burden is on VA to rebut the presumption of soundness. The burden is not on the veteran to prove that they were considered sound on entry into service. When it comes to the presumption of soundness, VA not only has to show that a veteran’s condition predated service, but it must also show that if the condition did exist prior to service, it was not then aggravated by military service. VA must show this by using clear and unmistakable evidence, which is a very high standard.
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