A secondary service-connected disability is a condition that is caused or worsened by a service-connected disability.
Examples 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 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.
For you to receive benefits, 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 benefits for a secondary condition you think you might eventually get—only for one with which you have already been diagnosed.
Secondary Service Aggravation
Sometimes, a service-connected condition aggravates another condition that you already had.
For example, if you have hypertension and it becomes aggravated by your service-connected diabetes, you can generally file a claim to get service-connected benefits.
Showing the Progression of Your Secondary Service-Connected Disability
To establish the relationship between your service-connected condition and the secondary condition, VA will need:
- Evidence of the diagnosis of your secondary condition
- Medical nexus evidence linking your primary condition to the secondary condition. This evidence must include a qualified professional’s 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.
How Can a Qualified Advocate Help You Seek Benefits?
Whether you are seeking benefits for a secondary, service-connected disability or another type of disability, an advocacy group can be a useful resource. An advocate can:
- Assess the state of your claim: Whether you have been denied benefits or have experienced a reduction in benefits, an advocate will gain the full picture of your claim. Your advocate will learn your goals for the claim and construct a plan of action.
- Review all claim-related material for accuracy: VA representatives may reject a claim on the smallest of technicalities. An experienced advocate will check every detail of documents and claims before submitting them. This will ensure that VA representatives evaluate your claim on its merit, not technicalities.
- Handle all claim-related communications: Disability claims are rarely as simple as submitting paperwork and receiving the proper decision. If there is any back-and-forth with VA reps, your advocate will manage these communications.
- Manage the decision review process: If VA representatives issue a decision that runs counter to your interests, an advocate will initiate and complete the decision review process. This step may be critical in obtaining the benefits that you deserve.
An advocate will ensure that you receive due process. As a veteran, you’re entitled to fair benefits for your disabilities, including secondary service-connected conditions.
What Should You Seek in an Advocate?
If you want help pursuing fair VA disability benefits, then hiring an advocate is the clear choice. The ideal advocate for a VA disability claim will:
- Understand the struggles of disabled veterans: Advocacy groups who truly understand what disabled veterans struggle with will fight as hard as possible for fair benefits.
- Show your case the attention that it warrants: If you don’t feel that an advocate is prioritizing your case, then you should consider finding an one who will.
- Have experience securing benefits for other disabled veterans: An advocate should generally have a record of results before you hire them. There are plenty of firms that have secured benefits for disabled veterans, so why settle for one that hasn’t?
- Allow you to focus on recovery: A capable advocate will handle the lion’s share of your pursuit of disability benefits. You should feel that your claim is in qualified hands, which will allow you to spend time recovering from your ailment.
Consider Disabled Vets: we are uniquely positioned to help veterans who are fighting for fair benefits.
A Veterans Disability Benefits Advocate Can Help You File an Appeal
A VA disability advocate 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 connect with an advocate who can help you collect benefits for your secondary service-connected disability, call us today.