Can I service connect for this? Can I service connect for that? My friend got service-connected for it, why can’t I? These are just a few of the many questions we are asked by new clients when it comes to service connection. Finding out what you can and cannot service connect for can be quite difficult. If you have ever seen the Veterans Laws, Rules and Regulations book you will know that it is three things; confusing, boring, and thick! Since it is so large, we know right away that you can service connect for almost anything under the sun. So, should just apply for everything and hope for the best? That is never a good idea. Instead, use these simple rules when determining which disabilities to pursue.
First, were you injured while serving in the military? This may seem like a simple question, but many Veterans tend to overlook it when applying for benefits. For instance, we have a lot of Veterans who were paratroopers. This involves jumping out of a plane and landing on the ground via parachute. When doing this, a soldier puts a lot of force on his feet and ankles upon landing. We find that a lot of Veterans who were paratroopers file claims on their ankles. They may have broken or sprained their ankle on one of these jumps, and then sought treatment for the issue. This is a good example of a disability to pursue.
An example of a not so good disability to pursue would be one like this: A Veteran wants to file a claim on his back. When asked if he injured it while serving in the military, he replies no. He states instead that he injured it while working several years after he was discharged at his job. This is an example of a claim you likely wouldn’t want to file because it is not related to your time in service. It however may be a great claim for Social Security Disability.
You may have heard talk of presumptive conditions. As a reminder, a presumptive condition is one that does not have to be diagnosed while serving, but is a result of serving in a specific area during a set time period. (For more information about this topic, read previous through our past blog posts.)
Let’s give both types of examples here too. Our first example is that of a Veteran who served in Vietnam in 1968. He wants to file a claim for Diabetes as a result of Agent Orange exposure. Since he served in Vietnam, and Diabetes is on the presumptive list for exposure, this would be an example of a good claim as a presumptive.
On the other hand, we have a Veteran who served from 1984 to 1987. He also wants to file a claim for Diabetes. When asked if he was diagnosed while serving, he replies no. If he would have said yes, it would be a good claim for service connection. Simply replying no does not necessarily make this ineligible for service connection. Instead, I would ask if he had issues with blood sugar while serving, or if he was diagnosed within a year of discharge. If the answer to both of these questions is no, then it is not likely to be service-connected.
These are just a few quick ways to determine if your disabilities are service connectable. When we accept a new Veteran as a client, we go over all of their claims in detail. If you are on the fence about a disability it’s better to try to pursue it, or better yet, speak to a legal professional at our law firm. We can help you navigate through this process. Call us toll free: 1-877-526-3457.