A common question we hear is “Why did my friend/family member receive service connection for this condition when I didn’t?” Many times, the answer is related to whether the condition is considered presumptively service-connected for a particular person, which depends on when a veteran served and where.

Diseases Diagnosed after Discharge

Many chronic diseases are automatically considered to have been caused by military service if they manifest themselves to 10% or more within a year after a veteran is discharged from the military. Some of these conditions are:

  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Leukemia
  • Hypertension
  • Valvular heart disease
  • Gallstones
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney stones
  • Tuberculosis
  • Any psychotic disorder
  • Arthritis
  • Encephalitis
  • Epilepsy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis

These are only a few conditions. The rest can be found here.

Prisoners of War

Prisoners of War are presumed to be service-connected for many conditions, and those imprisoned for more than 30 days can be service-connected for even more. Once any of the following conditions manifest to at least 10% or more any time after discharge, a veteran can be service-connected.

  • Any psychotic or anxiety disorder
  • Chronic depression
  • Degenerative arthritis
  • Hypertensive heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Osteoporosis

Agent Orange Exposure

Veterans with service in Vietnam or its inland waterways between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975, veterans who worked on C-123 aircraft after the war, or veterans stationed in Thailand who had exposures near the perimeter of the bases are presumed to be exposed to Agent Orange. A veteran with Agent Orange exposure who is diagnosed with any of the following will be service-connected.

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Prostate cancer
  • Chloracne
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Prostate, lung, bronchial, larynx, or trachea cancer

Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune

Veterans who were stationed at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 are now entitled to presumptive service connection for the following eight conditions:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease

That is not to say that service connection for other conditions cannot be granted, but you will need a doctor’s opinion that provides a nexus, or link, between your current condition and your past military service.

Gulf War Syndrome

Finally, veterans with service in Southwest Asia at any time between August 2, 1990 to the present (which includes Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the waters of the Persian Gulf, etc.) may receive presumptive service connection for chronic multi-system illnesses or undiagnosed illnesses. Those illnesses include:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Functional gastrointestinal disorders

Again, veterans who are not entitled to presumptive service connection may still receive compensation, but they will need to provide a nexus between their condition and an in-service injury or event.

What to Do After You’ve Been Denied

If you believe you should be granted presumptive service connection for your condition and the VA turns you down or gives you a lower disability rating than you initially expected, you will have to appeal that decision to continue fighting for your benefits.

At Berry Law Firm, we work alongside veterans to meet their goals, even if we have to appeal all the way up to the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. When the VA doesn’t grant you the benefits you need to care for yourself or your family, please contact us. Our team of veterans’ disability attorneys may be able to help.