VA compensation is a tax-free benefit paid to veterans because of injuries or diseases that occurred during active duty, or were made worse by active military service. It is also available to some veterans who have been disabled from VA healthcare. However, many veterans are denied benefits and have to undergo the lengthy appeals process because they do not know what is required to file a successful claim.
First, for your claim to be successful, you must have medical proof that you are suffering from an injury that currently affects you. Many veterans mistakenly believe that they are entitled to benefits merely because they were injured during active duty. Instead the disease or injury must be currently affecting the veteran. Regardless of the severity of the injury or disease you suffered during active duty, if your doctors have concluded that your injury is healed or your disease is cured, you will not receive benefits.
Second, the disability must have been caused by a service related injury or disease. Generally, the VA scrutinizes your veteran’s service medical records to ensure that the illnesses diagnosed during service did not exist before active military service. You might be denied benefits if you cannot prove that your initial injury occurred during active duty or was made worse by active military service. However, if there is no proof of the illness in your veteran’s service medical records, private medical records and testimony from witnesses might be admissible.
Finally, there must be a connection between your current disability and your service related injury or disease. That is, in addition to proving that your initial injury occurred during active duty or was made worse by active military service, you must prove that your current disability resulted from that service related incident. To do this, you must show that the injury caused an illness or injury, and that you have continued with medical treatment. This is called “continuity of symptomology”. There can be a problem if a veteran stops treatment or if there is a lapse of one year or more between the time you are discharged and the time you file your claim. Failure to prove a connection between the current disability and the initial injury is the reason why most veterans are denied benefits, and is all the more reason why it is important to continue treating with your doctors, and to work with an attorney on your case.