Disabling Injuries, Illnesses or Diseases
That May Be Caused
or Aggravated by Your Existing
Service Connected Conditions
Let's begin by defining a couple of terms in simple language.
Nomenclature is very important when working with VA so it helps for you to understand the language.
The term condition is used to describe any physical or mental health problem you may have. A
is an injury or an illness that occurred during your military service.
The condition may be disabling or not. You may have had a condition like
a fungal infection that was treated and cleared up with treatment. That
isn't disabling but it may be rated as service connected at 0%
Or you may have had a significant injury such as a gunshot wound. Even
though it was treated, that wound may have left you with only a partial
use of the affected limb and a big scar. That's a disabling condition
and will likely be awarded an appropriate rating for purposes of
The term "service connected" implies that
the illness or injury occurred during your service or if it shows up
later in your life, was caused, contributed to or aggravated by your
The condition doesn't have to be from combat or even while
you're performing a military duty. You're military 24 x 7 so anything
that happens before you have that DD 214 in hand counts.
These conditions can be physical illnesses or mental health problems.
Some service connected conditions are pretty easy to understand. If you
lose a finger or a toe in an accident or in combat, you'll get a clear
cut rating for the loss
of the digit. That loss isn't pleasant but it
isn't very likely to disrupt your life to any great extent and it won't
lead to any other physical problems for you.
Then again, you may be diagnosed with an illness or incur an injury that can cause other problems.
If you have a service connected condition and that condition leads to
other physically or mentally disabling conditions, you may have a reason
to file a claim for a secondary condition.
Veterans who served in Vietnam are known to have been exposed to agent
orange. Agent orange is known to cause or contribute to a variety of
health problems. Your VA
that many health problems that occur in Vietnam veterans may be caused
by the exposure to agent orange. In fact, there's a well defined list of
these presumptive conditions.
One of the common conditions that may be seen in the Vietnam veteran is
adult onset diabetes, often called Type 2 Diabetes or DMII. Any Vietnam
veteran who receives a diagnosis of DMII should file a claim for
disability compensation. The claim is
likely to be awarded without too
much fuss if the veteran has his paperwork in proper order.
Once an individual is diagnosed with DMII his health care team will
begin to watch for conditions that are known to be secondary to the
diabetes. Medical science recognizes that diabetes can be a brutal
disease and it may cause other physical health problems. Most of these
problems may be avoided or minimized with good medical care like a
proper diet and medicines.
Some manifestations of DMII will come up for some veterans though. These
may be viewed as secondary conditions and when they occur, they should
be claimed as service connected and secondary to the primary DMII.
Diabetes (DMII) as a primary condition
Diabetes is known to be very hard on the human vascular system.
The veteran who has diabetes will be monitored for diseases of the
arteries of the heart, the neck, the kidneys and the legs. If diabetes
affects those arteries the veteran may develop ischemic heart disease,
carotid artery disease, renal artery disease or peripheral artery
Those diagnoses may lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and difficulty in walking or even loss of a leg.
If there is a diagnosis of DMI and that diagnosis is rated by VA as
service connected, vascular diseases that are diagnosed
later will be
viewed as secondary conditions and will deserve an award of
Interestingly, the diagnosis of service connected DMII must come first.
If a veteran claims carotid artery disease in 2006
and is denied and
then in 2009 he is diagnosed as having
service connected DMII, the
original denial is likely to remain as is.
For a claim of a secondary condition, the primary service connected condition must be of record first.
If the veteran has service connected diabetes, he or she may consider filing for;