Was Your VA Claim for Service Connection Denied?

Was Your VA Claim for Service Connection Denied?

Every year, the Department of Veterans Affairs denies thousands of claims, disappointing Veterans.

Many Veterans seek assistance from the VA due to a financial or health crisis. So denying a claim for service connection is no small task. It can leave Veterans in a position of not knowing what to do next. 

Many Veterans wonder why the VA denies their claims.

There are numerous reasons; however, it is often because the VA found there was a lack of evidence proving a Veteran’s disability or illness is service-connected.

This article will explain why the VA sometimes denies a claim and what a Veteran can do to appeal it.

Key Takeaways:

  • You’ll learn what service-connection means
  • You’ll understand why it is essential to be service-connected
  • You’ll know how to appeal if you are denied
  • You’ll learn what evidence is best to prove service-connection

What Does Service-Connection Mean?

To understand why the VA denied a Veteran’s claim for service-connection, we must understand what service-connection means.

Service connection means that a Veteran’s military service caused their injury, disability, or illness.

The Veteran must show the appropriate evidence to prove service connection. When the VA denies a claim for service connection, there is usually a lack of evidence justifying the finding.

Veterans should gather as much information and evidence as possible to convince the VA they are entitled to service connection. When a Veteran files a claim for benefits, the more evidence they provide, the better. 

This will do two things for the Veteran.

  1. It will ensure the Veteran did not miss any critical evidence and allow them to file a higher-level review rather than delay their claim while seeking additional evidence. 
  1. If a Veteran provides all of the evidence up front, there is a better chance that the claim for service connection will be granted right away. 

Why Is Service Connection so Important?

In order to receive benefits and compensation from the VA for your disability or illness, the claim must be service-connected. This is why it is important to provide as much evidence that supports a Veteran’s claim that their disability or illness is service-connected.

Gathering records from a Veteran’s time in service can help determine whether or not a Veteran’s disability is service-connectable. Even if a Veteran suffered from their condition during service, their records may still be missing key pieces of evidence to support a Veteran’s claim 

Further, many Veterans are unaware of their entitlement to benefits. While the key to obtaining compensation benefits is proving service connection, the first step is realizing that a Veteran may be entitled to those benefits in the first place. This is why seeking assistance from representatives like Berry Law is so important. 

What Evidence Will Support a Claim for Service-Connection?

When filing an effective claim with the VA, gathering evidence is the signal most important step in the process.

The VA will look for three main things when they go over a Veteran’s claim:

  1. An event, disability, or illness in service;
  2. Current diagnosis a disability or illness; and
  3. A nexus, or connection, between the two.

Therefore, the evidence must focus on these three issues. If the evidence fails to support any of these components, the VA will deny the claim.

What evidence will support a Veteran’s claim for service connection?

Service Records

Service records can show that a Veteran experianced an event, disabiltiy, or illness in service. This can range from the stressor that caused their PTSD or a broken ankle that led to arthritis. 

The Department of Defence should maintain detailed records of a Veteran’s time in the service. It is important that service members disclose any injuries or events that occurin the military that may cause further issues later in life.

These service records can provide helpful information such as an event or injury that occured in service. As long as the Veteran was not reckless or otherwise at fault for the injury, they may be entitled to service connection for any condition that develops while they are on active duty orders.

Sometimes, the military fails to keep thorough records. So it can take a keen eye to identify supporting evidence in a service record. There are even situations when the VA and DOD cannot locate a Veteran’s service records. Again, this requires special knowledge about the VA claims system. 

Medical Records

A Veteran must gather medical records that detail their current diagnosis or symptoms. The VA will only service connect active conditions. So if a Veteran has fully recovered from a fall in service and has no remaining issues, the VA will not grant service connection.

Medical records can be from a VA Healthcare Center or from a civilian provider. As long as the records document a current diagnosis or symptoms, the records should be submitted with a Veteran’s claim. 

Nexus Letter or Independent Medical Opinion

The most helpful piece of evidence to prove a nexus, or connection, between the in-service event and current condition is a nexus letter or independent medical opinion. These documents explain why a Veteran’s condition is related to their service. 

A Veteran seeking service connection should speak with their medical providers and ask if they are able and willing to provide these letters or opinions. If the provider refuses, there are private experts who can conduct a records review and provide an opinion. While these nexus letters and independent medical opinions often cost money, they can be extremely valuable for a Veteran’s claim for service connection. 

Buddy Statements

Another useful piece of evidence is is the buddy statement.

A Veteran can use buddy statements for several reasons:

  • A fellow service member witnessed an incident that caused a Veteran’s current disability or illness.
  •  A fellow service member or family member can provide information about the Veteran’s condition before, during, and after service.
  • A friend or family member can explain the severity of a Veteran’s current condition.

Making an Appeal

Veterans may see a lot of denials from the VA. However, Veterans can appeal any decision that the VA makes.

Usually, a Veteran has 1 year to file an appeal on a VA Rating Decision. If a Veteran misses that deadline, they can always file a claim to reopen with new and relevant evidence. However, it is always best to keep on top of deadlines. If a Veteran is unsure about what steps to take to make an appeal, they should contact an experienced team, such as Berry Law, to help them in the process.

The team at Berry Law can help guide them through the process, help pinpoint why the VA denied their claim in the first place, and assist in the development of the evidence needed to file an appeal.


Knowing why the VA denied a Veteran’s claim is key to making a plan to develop an effective appeal. Many Veterans are unaware of what the VA looks for in a claim, which leaves them confused and frustrated.

Veterans should look for a variety of evidence to help support their claim. Again, the team at Berry Law can provide their knowledge to fight for the benefits Veterans deserves. 

For more information on VA benefits and claims, visit our website.


Evidence Needed For Your Disability Claim | Veterans Affairs

What is Direct Service Connection for VA Disability Compensation? | Veterans Aid Benefit

38 CFR § 3.303 – Principles relating to service connection | Cornell 

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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