Not Service Connected: What Now!?
The VA uses the term “not service connected” to refer to a disability that is not the result of an injury or illness that occurred during military service. This can include conditions that existed before service, or those that develop after discharge.
However, today we will examine what to do when your claim should be service-connected. There are several common reasons the VA will deny your claim, and we will examine how to work past a denial.
First Rule: The VA Thinks Its Not Service Connected
Be polite. Be professional. And execute a plan to beat the VA at their games. Remember, the VA wins if they deny you. The VA does not want to approve your claims. Too many veterans are told their claims are “not service-connected” when that is simply not true.
I have an excellent health care team through my local VA (Veteran’s Health Administration). However, the medical staff at the hospital doesn’t determine my disability ratings. The VBA (Veteran’s Benefit Administration) is the entity that awards your ratings.
Too many veterans make the mistake of thinking the VBA is on their side. That is not true. The VBA is on the VA’s side. The VBA exists to protect the interests of the VA, not veterans.
No Current Medical Diagnosis? Its Not Service Connected
Many veterans neglect to have a current diagnosis before they file a claim. This will immediately stall your claim. The VA requires three things: service-connection, nexus, and a current diagnosis with symptoms. The VA will deny your claim if you don’t have a current diagnosis. You take away your chance of them even looking for nexus and service-connection.
Do You Have Medical Evidence In Your Medical Records?
Your active duty medical record is the best proof of service-connection. In a perfect world, you will have proof of medical treatment while on active duty, and medical records showing continual care since you separated service. However, that is often not the case. The VA can still find you service-connected without a strong medical record.
You should always provide as much evidence as possible. If medical records are not available; you can use personal statements. You can write your own personal statement, and you can also ask family and friends to write statements on your behalf. We know these statements from others as “buddy letters,” and can include both veterans and civilians.
In addition, a “nexus letter” from a medical professional is an excellent way to overcome weak medical evidence. The nexus letter is an independent medical opinion that your current diagnosis stems from your active duty service.
Do You Have Continual Care Since You Separated?
It is very common for a veteran to have large gaps in their medical treatment. However, that makes it difficult to get your claims approved. We always encourage veterans to continually receive treatment for any service related issues. At a minimum, you need to be treated once a year for all issues. This includes mental health if you want to keep your rating.
Veterans will receive a letter denying service-connection if there is a lack on continual care. In fact, the VA may acknowledge both your in service event and current diagnosis while still denying your claim. This is another instance where a nexus letter can overcome this issue.
I Got The Not Service Connected Letter – What Now?
Remember, the denial letter saying your disability is not service connected is just a roadblock. It is not the end of the fight. You can still win. Want to learn how to win that fight step by step? Check out our BOOT CAMP to learn how YOU can win your claim by yourself.
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