As many thousands of veterans apply for disability compensation each year, they are usually aware of how they became injured or ill and when it happened during service. Sometimes they became disabled during service, while other times the condition did not present itself until later, and still others wait until they feel comfortable with filing a claim for any variety of reasons. Generally, every claim for VA disability benefits has one thing in common: service connection must be proven.
How to Prove Connection to Service
A tie to service and the physical condition must be proven when a claim for disability is filed. Proof of service connection may be shown through an obvious and direct link. The injury or illness may also be one that was exacerbated during service although it was pre-existing. There may also be a presumptive service connection for certain disabilities, depending on when and where you served.
Conditions that qualify as presumptive do not require you to show with medical evidence that your disability was due to your military service. Instead, the VA has decided that veteransrequired to prove that the illnesses are due to the time they spent in service. What this means for you as a veteran is that if you served in what are considered to have been “unique circumstances” by the VA, your disabilities are presumed to be connected to that time you spent in the military.
Examples of Presumptive Conditions
Good examples of conditions that are presumptive would be those of veterans who were prisoners of war (POWs). Presumed disabilities for POWs include psychosis, anxiety, heart problems, ulcers, nutritional deficiencies, and more.
Those who served in Vietnam are often also eligible for presumptive service connection for conditions caused by exposure to Agent Orange, such as AL amyloidosis, leukemia and a variety of other cancers, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, diabetes, and more. Gulf War veterans often experience clusters of medically unexplained symptoms causing varying degrees of disability that may be considered presumptively related to service. Veterans who were living on base at Camp Lejeune from August 1, 1953 through December 31, 1987 are now eligible for presumptive service connection and disability compensation if they are suffering from a list of diseases including leukemia, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Parkinson’s disease.
If you are suffering from a presumptive condition, you must be able to show you served in active duty at that time—for example, in the Gulf War. In that case, you would need to show you have been diagnosed with the condition and then it will be automatically presumed that it is related to your service. If you have a condition not listed as presumptive that you believe was still due to service in the Gulf War or because of exposure to Agent Orange or another contaminant, you can still apply for disability compensation but you would have to offer medical evidence linking the disability to your service to prove service connection.
Talk to Our Veterans Attorneys About Presumptive Conditions
Veterans who suffer from a presumptive condition still have to properly file their claim for VA benefits. If you need assistance during this process, or would like to appeal your claim to receive increased benefits, talk to an experienced veterans attorney.
The attorneys at Chisholm, Chisholm and Kilpatrick have over 25 years of experience helping veterans get the benefits they deserve. Call our office at 401-331-6300 to receive your no-cost case consultation.