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.