What is a Line of Duty Determination? And How Can That Affect a VA Disability Claim?

A Line of Duty determination is an administrative procedure used by the military for determining a member’s duty status at the time of injury, illness, disability, or death. The L-O-D decision has a direct bearing on whether or not a service member is eligible for VA benefits.

Here’s how it works. Under military regulations the L-O-D process is required when an active duty service member has an illness, injury, or disease that results in the inability to perform military duties for more than 24 hours, is likely to cause permanent disability, or results in the death of a service member. The outcome of a Line of Duty investigation will be one of four decisions.

The best possible outcome is “In the Line of Duty”. This is the presumed decision unless the facts show that the service member’s illness, injury, or death occurred while the individual was absent without authority or caused by that person’s misconduct. If the determination is “In the Line of Duty”, then the service member is eligible for VA benefits.

Then there are three possible determinations that will mean the service member is ineligible for benefits. The first is “Existed Prior to Service”. This determination means that there were one or more underlying conditions which were present before the member’s entry into military service and that condition was not aggravated by their service. The next possible outcome is “Not In Line of Duty, Due to Own Misconduct”. If a formal investigation determines that the member’s condition was caused by the member’s own misconduct, disability benefits will be denied. And finally, if a service member’s injury, illness. or death occurs while they are “Absent Without Authority”—then they will be barred from receiving benefits.

If you are denied benefits because of an unfavorable L-O-D determination, you do have a one-time right to appeal the decision, but you must file your appeal within 30 days.

If you have been denied VA disability benefits due to an unfavorable L-O-D determination or for any other reasons, contact us at Cuddigan Law for a fresh look at your situation and there is never a cost or obligation for an initial evaluation.

 

 

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska