What is “Service Connection” and how does it affect my VA disability benefits?

To be eligible for veteran disability benefits you need to show that your disabling condition is connected to your military service. This is called “direct service connection.” You have this connection if an event that took place during your service caused the injury or illness you suffer from now.

There are three different types of direct service connection--Aggravated Service Connection, Presumptive Service Connection and Secondary Service Connection.

Aggravated Service Connection is established if you can show that an existing medical condition was aggravated or made worse after an event that occurred during your military service. If that pre-existing condition isn’t cited in your entrance medical exam, you’ll need to have medical evidence of its diagnosis and treatment. If you believe the symptoms of your pre-existing illness or injury got worse during your time in the service, you’ll need to prove that it’s not just a natural progression of your condition. You may need a doctor’s opinion to help show the connection to a service event.

For veterans who have served at least 90 days in the military, there are medical conditions that, by law, are assumed to be service connected. Presumptive Service Connection is available for POWs who acquired certain illnesses after being confined for more than 30 days, certain chronic health conditions such as infectious diseases acquired after serving in the Gulf War, and for certain cancers due to exposure to hazardous chemicals like Agent Orange. You need medical evidence of the diagnosis and that the condition occurred within the presumed time period.

You’re eligible for disability benefits under a Secondary Service Connection if your illness or injury has caused another different or separate condition. For example, a second service connection might be depression caused by an injury you sustained while in combat. You’ll need medical evidence and a doctor’s opinion that prove this. 

If your claim for VA disability benefits has been denied, you have the right to appeal. Contact us Cuddigan Law for a free evaluation your situation. At Cuddigan Law you have a team of professionals in your corner who will fight for your rights.
Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska