3 Steps to Take to Prove Service-Connection

Anyone who has ever applied for VA disability benefits will be painfully familiar with the term “service-connection.” These two hyphenated words are often the first hurdle veterans need to overcome when applying for disability benefits.

Service-connection is a legal term that basically means a veteran’s disability or illness resulted from or was aggravated by their military service. The VA requires service-connection to be established to make sure they aren’t giving out benefits for injuries or illnesses that happened for non-military reasons.

There are five kinds of service-connection the VA considers acceptable.

  1. Direct Service Connection
  2. Secondary Service Connection
  3. Pre-Existing Injury Aggravated by Military Service
  4. Service Connection by Legal Presumption
  5. Service Connection due to Injury Caused by Treatment in the VA Healthcare System

In order to establish any one of these five types of service-connection, veterans need to take these three steps to prove their service-connected disability. Some kinds of service-connection can be harder to prove than others. If you need more information on what kind of service-connection best fits your claim call a VA attorney.

How to Prove Service-Connected Disability

  1. Prove there was an event- The first step is to prove there was some kind of event that happened while you were in the service. This event could have caused the injury or aggravated a pre-existing injury.
  2. Get a diagnosis- Once you’ve established there was an event, you’ll need to get a diagnosis from a doctor that says you have a disability or recurring/persistent symptoms of a disability.
  3. Put it together- This is the tricky part. For the final step, you’ll need to have hard evidence that proves the event caused your diagnosed disability. In order to do this, you’ll need to get “competent and credible” evidence.

It’s important for veterans to focus on establishing service-connection first. Fighting for a higher disability rating can happen after service-connection is established, but doing it in the reverse order will most likely derail a claims application.

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