A secondary service-connected disability is a condition that is caused by or worsened by a service-connected disability.
Example of Secondary Service-Connected VA Disabilities
If you are service-connected for diabetes as a result of exposure to Agent Orange, you may go on to also develop other conditions as due to your diabetes. For instance, if you were to develop hypertension because of your diabetes, you could claim the hypertension as a secondary service-connected disability.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will require that your primary service-connected condition caused or aggravated the condition in question. You will need to provide evidence demonstrating your diagnosis, as well as the progression of the secondary disease from the primary disability. In other words, you cannot get service-connected for a secondary condition you think you might eventually get—only for one for which you have already been diagnosed.
Secondary Service Aggravation
Sometimes, a service-connected condition aggravates another condition which you already had.
For example, if you have hypertension, and it becomes aggravated by your service-connected diabetes, you can file a claim to get service-connected for your hypertension even if your diabetes didn’t “cause” hypertension to develop.
Showing the Progression of Your Secondary Service-Connected Disability
To establish the relationship between your service-connected condition and the secondary condition, the VA will need:
- Evidence of the diagnosis of your secondary condition, and
- Medical nexus evidence linking your primary condition to the secondary condition. This evidence must provide an opinion that your secondary condition is due to or aggravated by the primary condition. The nexus opinion can come from a treating physician, a private doctor or a VA Compensation & Pension Examiner, but it must be from a medical professional.
A Veterans Disability Benefits Lawyer Can Help You File an Appeal
A VA disability lawyer can help you write and file your appeal. You will need to file your appeal within a specified timeframe, so you would be wise to begin the process soon after VA denied your application.
To learn more about how a veterans’ disability lawyer can help you collect benefits for your secondary service-connected disability, call (888) 392-5392.