The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides monthly income benefits to former servicemembers living with disabilities or illnesses they sustained during their time on active duty. However, disabled veterans who apply for disability benefits are often met with denial letters.
The VA denies many claims on the basis of erroneous or incomplete information. For example, many disability claim denials can be attributed to a lack of in-service connection. Fortunately, an experienced attorney can assist you with understanding and appealing a benefits denial due to a lack of in-service evidence.
Proving that an injury occurred during active duty service is crucial to the success any disability claim for VA benefits. This requires a disabled veteran to trace their injury or illness back to their active duty service using military records. Qualifying disabilities may be the result of combat injuries that occurred overseas or an occupation illness developed during active duty training.
If a veteran fails to provide enough in-service evidence in their initial application, the VA may assume that they are suffering from a pre-existing condition. Pre-existing conditions are any health issues that occurred prior to a person’s military service. It is not unusual for the military to accept individuals with pre-existing issues regarding their vision, hearing, or breathing, among other things.
While a pre-existing condition will not prevent a former servicemember from qualifying for disability benefits, it can complicate the process of determining whether a disability is service-related and therefore lead to denials. For some people, active duty can aggravate a pre-existing condition or worsen it over time. In either case, a veteran could pursue disability benefits related to a pre-existing condition with the right in-service evidence.
A denial based on a lack of in-service evidence does not mean the VA determined that a condition is not service-connected. Instead, it means the evidence presented to the VA is not enough to establish that an injury or illness occurred during a veteran’s active duty service. This distinction is important, as it is possible to address evidentiary discrepancies on appeal.
In some cases, lack of in-service denials can be resolved by providing additional documentation. In other cases, a minor error in the paperwork could cause significant challenges. It is also possible that the VA made a mistake and overlooked the clear evidence that an injury or illness occurred during a veteran’s military service. In these cases, the guidance of an attorney is invaluable.
Evidentiary issues relating to whether a disability is service-related are unfortunately common. The good news is that receiving a benefits denial due to lack of in-service evidence does not mean the end of your claim for disability benefits.
An attorney at our firm could review your application as well as the denial letter to identify the issues that need to be fixed with an appeal. To learn more, schedule a confidential case evaluation immediately.