Service Connection Statement
In general, in order for the VA to grant service-connection for a claim, you must provide evidence of:
- A current diagnosis or persistent symptoms of a current disability;
- A disease, injury, or event incurred in or aggravated by active duty service; and
- A nexus, or a medical link between the in-service disease, injury, or event and the current diagnosis or persistent symptoms.
Chronicity & Continuity of Symptoms
A condition does not need to be diagnosed while the veteran is in service in order to be deemed service-connected. Many veterans suffer from symptoms for years before they decide to treat for the condition for many reasons. Service-connection may be established where a chronic disease is diagnosed in service and there are subsequent manifestations of the disease. The VA has a list of conditions that qualify as “chronic.”
If the condition diagnosed in service is not deemed “chronic,” you may still be able to establish service connection by showing that you have had consistent symptoms since service. Consistent treatment in service or since discharge is not a requirement to establish continuity of symptoms. Your statement and the statements of others may establish consistent symptoms, even if you haven’t treated with a physician consistently since you were discharged from service.
The VA may compensate you for conditions that are secondary to or aggravated by a service-connected condition, or those you would not have developed had it not been for the principal service-connected condition.
Veterans who served during certain periods of time and in certain areas may qualify for presumptive service connection. This means the VA will waive the in service disease, injury, or event requirement as long as you can show you were stationed in a certain place at a certain time and you have one of the presumptive conditions.
1. Agent Orange Presumption
If you served in Vietnam during the Vietnam era, or along the Korean DMZ between April 1, 1968, and August 31, 1971, you may qualify for presumptive service connection. Other areas including Thailand and other coastal waterways have also been subject to this presumption. In order to qualify for the Agent Orange presumption, you must also have one of the following presumptive conditions:
- AL Amyloidosis– A rare disease caused when an abnormal protein, amyloid, enters tissues or organs
- Chronic B-cell Leukemias– A type of cancer which affects white blood cells
- Chloracne(or similar acneform disease) – A skin condition that occurs soon after exposure to chemicals and looks like common forms of acne seen in teenagers. Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
- Diabetes Mellitus Type 2– A disease characterized by high blood sugar levels resulting from the body’s inability to respond properly to the hormone insulin
- Hodgkin’s Disease– A malignant lymphoma (cancer) characterized by progressive enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, and by progressive anemia
- Ischemic Heart Disease– A disease characterized by a reduced supply of blood to the heart, that leads to chest pain
- Multiple Myeloma– A cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell in bone marrow
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma– A group of cancers that affect the lymph glands and other lymphatic tissue
- Parkinson’s Disease– A progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects muscle movement
- Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-Onset – A nervous system condition that causes numbness, tingling, and motor weakness. Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of herbicide exposure.
- Porphyria Cutanea Tarda– A disorder characterized by liver dysfunction and by thinning and blistering of the skin in sun-exposed areas. Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
- Prostate Cancer– Cancer of the prostate; one of the most common cancers among men
- Respiratory Cancers(includes lung cancer) – Cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus
- Soft Tissue Sarcomas(other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma) – A group of different types of cancers in body tissues such as muscle, fat, blood and lymph vessels, and connective tissues
2. Camp Lejeune Presumption
Effective March 14, 2017, the VA will provide presumptive service connection to veterans, former reservists, and former National Guard members who served at Camp Lejeune for no less than 30 days (either consecutively or non-consecutively) between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 who were exposed to toxic water and later developed one of eight presumptive diseases:
- Kidney Cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Adult Leukemia
- Liver Cancer
- Bladder Cancer
- Multiple Myeloma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Aplastic Anemia and other Myelodysplastic Syndromes
38 U.S.C. § 1151
A condition may be service connected and treated just like it was incurred in service if the condition was caused by hospital care, medical or surgical treatment, examination, or as the result of VA Vocational Rehab or Compensated Work Therapy Program. The injury must be related to the furnishing of medical services by a VA employee or at a VA Facility. The proximate cause of disability or death must have been the result of either (a) carelessness, negligence, lack of proper skill, error in judgment, or similar instance of fault on the part of the VA in furnishing hospital care, treatment, or examination, or (b) an event that was not reasonably foreseeable. The failure to provide medical treatment can also serve as the basis for an 1151 claim.