Posted by Gregory M. Rada | September 26, 2023 | Disability Compensation
When it comes to securing veterans’ benefits, the process can often be intricate and nuanced. Particularly when dealing with the issue of service-connected aggravation, a solid understanding of the VA’s procedures and decisions becomes crucial. This post will delve into the details of winning service connection via aggravation and how you, as a veteran, can navigate this challenging path.
There are essentially two types of cases involving aggravation. The first type of case is where a veteran has a pre-existing condition, meaning, they had the disability prior to entering the military. If a veteran can show that their pre-existing disability was aggravated by military service beyond its normal progression, they can win service connection for that disability even though it existed prior to military service.
It is often the case that a pre-existing condition of a veteran may get exacerbated during their service. The VA sometimes rules that such a condition, while noted at the time-of-service entry, only deteriorated due to its natural progression. It’s worth distinguishing that this is a medical conclusion, necessitating independent medical evidence to support such a claim.
Remember, as a veteran, you have the right to get an expert medical opinion from a non-VA physician to reinforce your claim or to refute a VA determination. Consider the influence military service may have had on your condition, such as the impact of boot camp, hazardous duty, or military discipline.
The second type of case is where an already-service-connected disability aggravates a non-service-connected disability.
You might be wondering, “How can I prove that my pre-existing condition got worse during my service?” The best way to support your claim is by documenting the progression of your disability in your service treatment records.
Another effective approach is getting an expert to compare the severity of your condition before and after your service. Service members occasionally receive treatment from private physicians, and the records from these physicians can be potent tools when substantiating your claim.
Lay evidence – statements from individuals who observed you and noticed your disability – may also be instrumental in backing your claim. Keep in mind, for the majority of aggravation claims, you’ll need a medical opinion confirming that your condition got worse during service.
If the VA denies your claim, you usually want to seek a physician who can say that it is at least as likely as not that your disability increased in severity during service, beyond what would be considered a normal progression of that disability. They should also clarify whether this increase resulted in a permanent worsening of your condition or was simply a temporary flare-up because to win service connection via aggravation, it has to be shown that a permanent worsening occurred.
Claiming service-connected aggravation can be a complex process. Nevertheless, armed with proper documentation and expert medical opinions, you can successfully navigate this journey. Always remember, every word in your VA claims file is crucial, and you should enlist the help of a representative well-versed in the intricacies of these cases.
Gregory Rada is an Air Force veteran that helps veterans nationwide receive the benefits to which they are entitled. He works with all his clients one-on-one from the start of their case to the end and never hands them off to case managers or paralegals. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.