Veterans Service Connection by Presumption

Certain veterans may have a way to establish service connection for a disability or death because a service connection by legal (U.S. Congress) presumption is available for their relevant condition. This is because Congress recognized that a condition that first manifested after active service probably had its beginning during the active service, or was caused by active service, and under the circumstances, veterans should not be required to obtain medical evidence of a connection in order to obtain benefits.

Service connection by presumption may include:

  1. certain chronic diseases;
  2. tropical diseases;
  3. diseases specific to former prisoners-of-war;
  4. diseases specific to radiation-exposed veterans;
  5. diseases associated with exposure to certain herbicide agents, such as Agent Orange;
  6. diseases associated with exposure to mustard gas and Lewisite; and,
  7. certain diagnosed and undiagnosed illnesses in veterans of the Gulf War.

In other words, Congress makes it possible for our veterans to meet the service-connected requirements by allowing the VA to assume that a disease began while a veteran was in the service, even if the veteran does not have enough evidence directly linking the condition to military service.

Our disabled veterans are entitled to this service-connected legal presumption if they served at least ninety continuous days during a period of war, or served at any time in active military, naval, or air service on or after January 01, 1947.

In order to establish a service connection by presumption, the veteran need only show that the disease or disability was apparent, to a degree of ten percent disability, within the required presumptive period.

The veteran may prove this onset of the disability or disease by medical evidence, competent lay evidence, or both. The disease does not have to be actually diagnosed within the presumptive period, as long the symptoms characteristic of the disease manifest within the required time period, and a diagnosis later follows. The length of this presumptive period varies for different diseases, as well as for certain groups of veterans.

As you can see, this is a critical area of Veterans’ Law. If you believe that you may have a claim, or if you previously filed a claim and were denied, the Law Office of Sonya L. Pence stands ready and prepared to assist you and your family to receive the disability benefits you rightly deserve.