Many veterans are taking medications to treat their service connected PTSD or manage the pain for their back, ankle, and knee conditions. VA doctors will prescribe medications and discuss with veterans their side effects but most veterans are unaware that they may be entitled to compensation for these side effects. 38 CFR 3.310(b) provides that veterans can receive compensation for non-service connected illnesses and injuries that are “proximately the result of service connected disease or injury”. These are called secondary service connection claims, claims that did not develop in service but are related to a service connected condition. Secondary service connection claims include the side effects of medications, either over the counter or prescription that veterans take for their service connected disabilities. Jones v. Shinseki, 26 Vet.App. 56 (2012).
Veterans who take medications often just “live with” the side effects without taking advantage of the benefits they are entitled to. Embarrassment about the side effects involved with many of the medications used to treat PTSD and joint pain keep veterans from seeking benefits for common conditions. Erectile dysfunction, gastrointestinal conditions, and headaches are the most common of these side effects that can be secondarily service connected.
Nobody wants to be a “sick call ranger”, but when veterans experience side effects from the medications they are taking to treat their service connected conditions, they are missing out on benefits they are entitled. For all of these claims, it is important to speak with a doctor regarding other options of treatment and to get medical evidence on record of a diagnosis of the secondary condition. Lay statements from veterans documenting the daily severity and duration of symptoms, can be useful in showing a pattern and severity of the condition. So, the next time a pharmacist offers to discuss the side effects of medication, it might worth a veteran’s time to listen and see what benefits they might be missing out on.
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