Veterans often wonder if they are entitled to benefits for conditions that arise as a result of their service-connected disability. For example, Veterans who are suffering from PTSD often wonder if they are entitled to benefits for sleep apnea because the PTSD caused it. The simple answer is yes. The department of Veterans Affairs refers to this type of disability as secondary service connection.
Secondary service connection does not require an injury or a disease that happened while in active service. Once you are service connected for an injury or disease, some other problems may flow from that disability. For example, if you are service-connected for lumbar strain and you now have nerve pain running down your leg (a neuropathy), you may get neuropathy service-connected secondary to the lumbar strain.
Although the secondary service-connected condition relies on the primary disability, there are some common conditions we see secondary connection for.
Parts of the body do not work in isolation; an abnormality in one area of the body may lead to more abnormalities elsewhere. Once you establish a secondary service connection for an injury caused by the primary service-connected condition, it becomes a separate condition and is rated separately from the primary condition. If it is shown to have become more debilitating, you may ask for an increase in rating for the secondary condition. It is important to note that scientific evidence is needed to prove that one condition causes the other.
You should also note that the VA prohibits pyramiding. Pyramiding is the evaluation of the same disability under various diagnoses. For example, you may not claim PTSD separately from depression and anxiety, this would be pyramiding. However, if you have PTSD and develop sleep apnea (or migraines, stomach problems, etc.) these conditions may be considered secondary to PTSD.
At Berry Law, we understand the difficulty Veterans have getting their VA claims approved. We have helped thousands of Veterans in their fight for disability benefits. If you have been denied disability benefits for secondary service connection, we can help. Contact Berry Law today to schedule a free case evaluation.
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