How Veterans Can Medically Support A Presumptive Disability Claim

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What is “Presumptive” Service Connection? 

The VA presumes that certain disabilities were caused by military service. This is because of the unique circumstances of a specific Veteran’s military service. If a presumed condition is diagnosed in a Veteran in a certain group, they can be awarded disability compensation. 

What are “Presumptive” Conditions? If you are diagnosed with a chronic disease within one year of active duty release, you can apply for disability compensation. 

Gulf War Veterans 

If you served in the Gulf War and you have medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illnesses that exist for six months or more, such as: 

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome 
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Irritable bowel syndrome 
  • Any diagnosed or undiagnosed illness that warrants a presumption of service connection, as determined by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. 

Signs or symptoms of an undiagnosed illness include: 

  • Fatigue 
  • Skin symptoms 
  • Headaches 
  • Muscle pain 
  • Joint pain 
  • Neurological symptoms 
  • Sleep disturbance 
  • GI symptoms  
  • Cardiovascular symptoms 
  • Weight loss 
  • Menstrual disorders

To win service-connection for a new disability, it must be directly related to your military service, secondary to a current service-connected disability, caused by exposure, or worsened beyond its natural progression by your active duty service or by another disability. These are the 4 main types of claims for service-connection, direct, secondary, presumptive, and aggravation. The 5th type is a new claim requesting an increased rating.

Include specifics with your claim

You must be as specific as possible about what you are claiming and use the most specific medical terminology possible.

If you believe your condition was caused by exposure clearly state this

Presumptive claims must prove exposure and a current medical diagnosis by a licensed provider. 

Many Veterans are focused on objective evidence, but it is a combination of both that get results. 

Many people emphasize the importance of getting medical documentation from any doctors that were seen outside the VA. This is obviously a huge factor in successful claims because proving service-connection is necessary in order to receive a disability rating from the VA. 

However, in many VA disability claims, especially presumptive claims, two Veterans suffering from the same condition may have completely different experiences. Bear in mind that your rating is determined by your symptoms and diagnosis, which are subjective. You are the only one who understands the severity of this disability, what it looks like on a day-to-day basis, and how it affects your functionality and your quality of life. A well-written lay statement should always be documented with the initiation of a presumptive claim.

If you develop symptoms of a chronic illness while in service and you continue to have those symptoms until you’re eventually diagnosed, a lay statement can be a piece of evidence to strongly support service-connection for that condition. 

Many presumptive disabilities are denied based on the lack of records showing exposure. If you know you were exposed, clearly state when, where, and how you were exposed. This information may prevent years of frustration in the disability claims process..

Most exposure can be established with evidence of your service location and dates. Pictures are powerful evidence can help win a case. Many Veterans exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam conflict have struggled to prove their exposure due to poor record-keeping at the time. Many of these claims have been won based on pictures, letters, and even memorabilia. 

Because of all these challenges in proving a presumptive claim, we highly recommend giving VA Claim Pros a call today. Let us help you with the relevant medical evidence to help support your VA disability claim. For answers to some commonly-asked questions, please visit our Faq’s page.

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