Does this sound like your VA claim:
You tell the VA about an in-service incident and all the problems it caused for you after your military service/
You wait for the VA to do the rest, assuming that after 60 years of processing VA Claims, they know what they are doing.
If that is a description of your claim, I'd be willing to bet that you have been repeatedly denied by the VA - or they have delayed your claim for months or years.
You don't have to wait for the VA to not take action. You can take back the Power in your VA Claim.
Most Veterans, unfortunately, do not know that there are 5 different ways to show that your medical condition is related to your military service.
I talk about all 5 of these paths in the Veterans Law Guidebook "5 Paths to Service Connection".
But today, I want to talk to you about one of these 5 Paths: Secondary Service Connection.
There is not always a nice straight line between an in-service injury and a medical condition. Sometimes a service-connected injury can cause another injury or condition.
Why is this?
Because the parts of the human body do not work in isolation.
Your heart pumps oxygen to your body.
If you have a problem with your "pump", you may likely have problems with your blood pressure.
If you have problems with your blood pressure, you may cause problems with your vascular system.
Vascular problems can lead to organ problems.
Organ problems can lead to cancers.
You get the idea.
Because the parts of the human body do not work in isolation, you may find yourself with a medical condition that did not arise in military service.
Instead, your medical condition may be the result of another service-connected injury.
If this is the case, then you are going to want to tell the VA that you are claiming service connection based on a legal theory of "Secondary service connection".
(Don't confuse this with the theory of service connection by aggravation - when a service-connected condition makes another pre-existing or non-service connected condition worse).
Medical evidence. Short and simple.
You will not succeed in a secondary service-connection claim without sufficient medical evidence.
Why not? Because lay evidence is often insufficient to establish medical causation.
That makes sense, right? You don't go to a yoga instructor to tell you why your car's "check engine" light is coming on. You go to someone that is trained in diagnosing that problem.
Likewise, in a secondary service connection claim, you will have to have a medical doctor offer an opinion that your condition was caused by - or resulted from - a service connected condition.
The legal burden of proof you need to meet is , however, the same as any other service connection claim: the doctor only needs to conclude: It is "at least as likely as not" that Service-connected Condition A caused Condition B.
Scenario 1: As a result of a combat injury, you are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress (aka, PTSD), depression or any other mental health condition. That mental health condition leads to stomach problems. Are the stomach problems able to be service connected using secondary service connection?
Answer: Probably. You will need medical opinions from a gastroenterologist and probably a psychiatrist or psychologist to show the VA that the stomach disorder is the result of, or caused by, the mental health condition.
Scenario 2: (This general scenario appears in the Veterans Benefits Manual, page 132.) A veteran has a 30% rating for a service-connected knee injury. As a result of that injury, the veteran now complains of chronic back-pain and walks with a limp. Is the low-back pain and limp a secondary connection?
Answer: It depends. If you have an opinion from a private medical expert, you may be able to establish that the second injury, the low back pain, is connected to the original knee problem. This is a tougher claim, because there are many causes for low back-pain.
Scenario 3: You had a Traumatic Brain Injury while in-service, and as a result, suffered nerve damage in your brain. You also have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, but there is no evidence that sleep apnea was diagnosed in service. Is your sleep apnea secondary to your TBI?
Answer: It could be - but you're going to need some medical evidence to show that. One form of sleep apnea results from nerve damage: the brain cannot send the proper signals to the lungs to expand and take in air. Sleep Apnea is a deadly condition - and there are many causes for the condition.
By the way, I'm about to release an eBook on Sleep Apnea claims - want me to teach you how the VA handles VA Claims?
VA Claims can seem tough at first - but they don't need to be.
Can I teach you my 8 Steps for Improving Your VA Claim?
This method is what my law firm uses - and I developed it by reading hundreds, if not thousands, of VA Claims Files.
I saw patterns in the claims that the VA continually delayed and denied, and I want to show YOU how to fix those patterns and problems.
You can also take a look at the Veterans Law eBook - "5 Paths to Service Connection".
Here's what Veteran Bill C. said after reading one of our Basic Veterans Law Guidebook Packages:
"I have an insight now that I did not have until I found your web site and the E Books. I am better prepared for trying to move my claim along...Knowledge is power, and you bring that power into many Veterans living room. I do not feel as though I have to go through this process alone."
If you have been able to prove secondary service connection, tell another Veteran how you did it in the comments section below.
Chris Attig, an Accredited Veterans Benefits attorney and Founder of the Attig Law Firm, PLLC is responsible for the content of the site. The principal office of Attig Law Firm, PLLC, is located in Dallas, Texas. Chris Attig is NOT Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. - Please view our website disclaimer.
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