In order to improve your chances of winning your application for service connected disability benefits, please know the following:
To prove a claim for disability benefits, a Veteran must prove: 1) a medical diagnosis of a current disability, 2) evidence of an in-service occurrence or worsening of an injury or disease must be presented, and 3) a link between the in-service incident or the worsening of the disease and the current condition must be established. Once this is proven, the severity of the disability is determined and an impairment rating is assigned.
Proving a Link
In order to establish a link between a current problem and an in-service incident, you must show that, “it is as likely as not” that a current disability was caused by an in-service occurrence, this is a fifty/fifty proposition.
To establish this link, you must show something is directly noted in your service records, or that you were in good health on your induction examination. Also, the VA has established several presumptions that can be used to establish a link between an in-service occurrence and a current disability. For example, some of the presumptions are as follows:
- Anything that a Veteran says happened during active combat is presumed to be true.
- Agent orange exposure is presumed if one had boots on the ground in Vietnam between 1962 – 1975.
- If a Persian Gulf Veteran has an undiagnosed illness, the illness is presumed to be service connected.
- Malaria, dysentery, etc. are presumed to be service connected if a Veteran served in the tropics.
The Following Evidence Can be Useful as You Prove Your Claim.
- The Claims File - You can request your file from the Regional Office nearest you, you are entitled to one free copy. It typically takes 90 days to receive the file.
- Acquire your DD 214.
- Request a copy of your Social Security Disability file.
- Request a copy of your Texas Worker’s Compensation file.
- Request your medical records from all VA Clinics or Hospitals.
- Request records from any and all private physicians that you have seen following your discharge.
- Attempt to acquire your service medical records.
- As you go about proving your case, please know that the VA has several duties and obligation that can benefit you
Duty to Assist
If your Application is incomplete, the VA is required to notify you what information is needed.
The VA has an affirmative duty to obtain evidence necessary to substantiate a claim for benefits.
The VA must make reasonable efforts to acquire missing records.
The VA must search until it is confirmed that the records do not exist.
The VA has a duty to conduct a medical examination. Once a Veteran shows there is insufficient evidence to make a decision, the duty to provide a medical examination is triggered. Once this examination is scheduled, the Veteran must submit to the examination, and the Veteran has a duty to be honest regarding symptoms. It is important to thoroughly and honestly report your employment and retirement history, substance abuse or self-medication, the reason for a lack of treatment or gaps in treatment and the extent and duration of your symptoms
The VA has a duty to provide notice regarding how the rating process works, regarding the procedure for obtaining a review of a decision.
Other resources that you may consider are as follows: