https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/289 A service-connected disability can result from a physical injury, exposure to harmful substances, or a mental-health issue related to military service. The condition need not be diagnosed during service. Additionally, in most cases, you need not have a formal diagnosis for your current condition. If you don’t have a diagnosis, however, you will have to explain how your symptoms cause functional and occupational impairment. These disabilities can have a significant impact on a veteran’s daily life and ability to work and can worsen or cause secondary conditions down the road, making it important to understand what options are available for support.
One of the more common types of post-service disabilities is physical injuries, such as hearing loss, tinnitus, pes planus (flat feet), joint issues, amputations, or traumatic brain injuries (TBI). These types of injuries can result from combat, training accidents, or other incidents during military service. For example, a veteran who lost a limb in combat is eligible for service-connected disability compensation and will receive benefits to help cover the cost of a prosthetic limb.
Notably, in-service physical injuries can sometimes lead to secondary injuries that also can be claimed as service-connected conditions. For example, a veteran with a back injury from lifting something in service could suffer from radiculopathy. In that case, both the back condition and the radiculopathy would be service connected.
Exposure to hazardous substances
Another common post-service disability is exposure to hazardous substances. This can include exposure to environmental or occupational toxins, such as jet fuel or radioactive materials, or exposure to burn pits during deployment. Such exposures can lead to respiratory problems, skin conditions, cancers, or other health issues that can affect a veteran’s quality of life and earning capacity. In fact, certain conditions are presumed to be related to exposure to hazardous materials in service. For example, the VA has agreed that qualifying veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and now have high blood pressure or diabetes mellitus type 2, are entitled to service-connection benefits. Likewise, qualifying veterans who were exposed to certain burn pits and now have chronic bronchitis, rhinitis, sinusitis, or asthma, are entitled to service-connected benefits. Recently, the VA added more conditions to these presumptive lists in the PACT Act.
Again, conditions caused by in-service exposures can also result in secondary conditions that should be claimed as service-connected. For example, if a veteran was exposed to Agent Orange and consequently developed diabetes mellitus type 2, that veteran may later suffer from peripheral neuropathy as a result of the diabetes. In that case, both the diabetes and peripheral neuropathy would be service-connected.
Mental health injury
Mental health issues are also a common post-service disability for veterans. This includes conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. These mental health conditions can develop as a result of the traumatic experiences and stress of military service and can have a lasting impact on a veteran’s daily life and earning capacity.
The more common service-connected disabilities
- Hearing loss and tinnitus: This refers to hearing loss and ringing in the ears because of exposure to loud noises during military service.
- Respiratory issues: This includes conditions such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma caused by exposure to environmental toxins during military service.
- Musculoskeletal injuries: This includes injuries to the bones, joints, and muscles. Examples include pes planus, amputations, spinal cord injuries, and arthritis.
- Mental health conditions: This includes conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety as a result of stressors during service.
- Skin conditions: This includes conditions such as chloracne and rashes as a result of exposure to environmental toxins during military service.
What happens after a condition is service-connected?
The VA uses a rating system to determine the severity of a veteran’s service-connected disability. The rating is based on the impact of the disability on the veteran’s ability to work and perform daily activities. The higher the rating, the more benefits the veteran is eligible to receive, including a higher monthly compensation payment.
Post-service disabilities can have a significant impact on a veteran’s daily life and ability to work. Understanding what a post-service disability is and what it means to have a service-connected disability is important for veterans and their families. By understanding the options available for support and the most common types of post-service disabilities, veterans can take the necessary steps to get the care and support they need.
Get help for your service-connected disability
If you are a veteran who is experiencing physical or mental health issues related to your military service, it’s important to reach out for help. You may be eligible for benefits and support through the VA, including compensation payments, medical care, and rehabilitation services.
To apply for benefits, complete an application and provide evidence of your military service and disability. The VA may require additional information, including medical records or statements from healthcare providers, to determine if the disability is service-connected.
If you are denied benefits, you have the right to appeal that decision. The VA provides resources and support to help you through the appeals process, including assistance from a veteran’s service organization or an accredited representative.
It’s also important to reach out for help if you are experiencing any mental health issues related to your military service. Mental health support is available through the VA, including counseling and therapy services.
Service-connected disabilities can have a profound impact on a veteran’s life, but there is help available. By understanding the options for support and the most common types of post-service disabilities, veterans can take the necessary steps to get the care and support they need. Whether you are seeking compensation benefits, medical care, or mental health support, know that you are not alone and that resources are available to help you through this difficult time. At Vets National, we don’t work for the government, we work for you. Call (877) 777-4021 or contact us online for a free claim review.