Ask a Service Officer: Service-connected disability

Q: How can I know if my disability is service-connected?

A. There are five ways to establish if a disability is service-connected. They are:

    1. Direct service connected. This is the most straightforward way that a veteran can establish service connected for his or her current disability. The best approach is to provide medical evidence of your current disability and evidence that the disease or injury occurred in service.
    2. Pre-existing injury aggravated by time in service. With this claim, normally a veteran would have some evidence, such as an entrance examination, that a condition existed before entering military service. And then accompanied by evidence of an incident occurring in service and again, linking evidence between the two.
    3. Service connection by legal presumption. That is certain diseases or injuries presumed to be service-connected. An example would be a veteran developing cardiovascular disease due to service-connection amputation of a lower limb.
    4. Secondary service connection.This is when one disability is the result of another service-connected disability.
    5. Connection due to injury caused by treatment in the VA healthcare system. If a veteran is injured because of VA hospitalization, treatment, rehab or therapy that is not the fault of the veteran, then the injury is treated as service-connected.






  1. I have been searching the Internet for days, for information on finding an attorney that deals with disability issues from VA. Every time I look them up, it does not apply to disability claims. The process has been slow, and he needs assistance NOW! I need to contact an attorney in Florence, Alabama area to relate in conversation his condition! This is for my brother, which is a Vet, has had 2 strokes, kidney disease and started his dialysis last in August this year. I see him struggle with this, and know that he needs a caregiver for 100% of the time. They were aware that he would need to start his dialysis soon in order for survival! He is only approved for 50% disabled with the VA. Also, he is paralyzed on left side. He is a proud person, and has tried to live within the means of his income, but he should be 100% approved already, because he lives on his own, and after bills, nothing left. Please direct me in the right path to help him? Thanks, Sarah (his siter)
  2. i am 62 and 40% service connected. 10% tintinus 30% knee; potentially, due to consideration for a injury which may be soon considered "related" to my other knee, i may wind up 70% service connected. i also have spinal issues which could be related to my knees. as well as potential PTSD. as not being retired yet, is there a reason to not pursue being 100% service connected?
  3. I first applied for VA benefits before 6 mos went by after I was discharged from active duty. I was denied benefits because the VA rep said I did not have a service connected disability. At the time I was recently married and had a baby on the way and also had a very good job. But I just got the job and had no time off. I didn't have the time nor inclination to start fighting the VA for benefits that I should have had no problem getting. I have gone through my whole working life with a severe disability that happened while on sea-duty. At the time I filed in 1977 my local VA rep told me that it was likely that I would be denied the first time I applied and it was pretty difficult to get VA disability benefits. Well he was right because even though I had a clear service connected disability the reason I was denied was a play on words that was written in a way to try to confuse the issues and muddy up the facts of the claim. I recently reapplied and brought for the issue that the officer that made the first decision to deny the claim had made a clear and unmistakable error when he made the decision then. At the time I knew absolutely nothing about the CFR and Title 38. If I would have known how the decisions were suppose to be made and by what rules I think things would have had a different outcome. Coming to the point, I have no doubt that the decision has to be different this time after I have applied again. The disability I had then I still have and it has led me to where I am at now. I am totally disabled and receiving Social Security Disability because of the disability incurred while in the service and that disability directly involved in contributing to other accidents and subsequent disabilities to my body that when taken together as a whole leaves me totally disabled and unemployable. What I want to know is how does the VA go about figuring out when total disability began and what rating will be established. And what will I be compensated for and for how long will the payments have to be retroactive for.
  4. if a veteran is under VA medical and healthcare,the veteran was wrongfully given medication and had a stroke,can the veteran have a claim.
  5. Go to VA.g ov and fill out form 21-526 (PDF) Veterans Application for Compensation and/or Pension (Fillable) That's it, you need evidence of your service and disabilities eventually, but it all starts with that form
  6. I have a 30% disability service connected, I was stationed in Vietnam from 1970-1971. I have type 2 diabetes and hearing loss. I also have sleep apnea, high blood pressure and now have trouble walking and standing for short periods of time. I need to know if some of these symptoms qualify for increasing my disability percentage.
  7. I need to know what your 30% disability is before I can tell you to the best of my knowledge whether you can go any higher. You need to have one disability rated 70% or more to file for an increase in compensation based on individual unemployability, however you may be able to have one of your conditions rated higher than 30% if you are not going for the full 100%
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