One of the most pervasive myths is that if you didn’t go to sick call you can’t claim the condition as a primary condition for service connection.
To be service connected as a primary connection you must have evidence that the condition began in, was caused by, or aggravated by your service. That doesn’t have to be service records. It definitely doesn’t have to be medical records.
It has to be evidence. What’s evidence? A fact that the rater or judge uses to decide issues in your case.
What constitutes evidence? The answer is almost unlimited.
- Service treatment records
- Service records
- Historical records
- Written testimony
- Medical facts
What you are proving is the “circumstances of your service” caused or contributed to your condition.
The most powerful evidence is government records, but that doesn’t mean other types are useless. In fact, one of the most useful in Veteran’s law is the lay statement. A statement provided by a non-expert (e.g. you, your buddies, your family). You can read more about lay statements here.
Prior to filing any claim, you should evaluate it using legal principles:
- Did the condition begin in or was it aggravated by service? Were there symptoms or circumstances that can prove that it did?
- If not, what caused the condition? Talk to a medical professional and ask them! Don’t guess or speculate as to the etiology yourself. That is a guaranteed denial.
Let’s look at a real case:
- The Veteran was assigned to a cruiser in the Pacific
- The cruiser went through two major typhoons during that period
- The Veteran later developed back issues that have progressively gotten worse
- The Veteran didn’t go to sick call for that condition
The ships logs demonstrate with weather patterns that the ship encountered the heavy seas. That is a fact. There are numerous medical studies linking axial loading of the spine to the exact degeneration and herniation the Veteran is experiencing. The Veteran wrote a lay statement that demonstrates they are credible and competent, and it in a compelling manner described the events and circumstances of their service.
The evidence proved that the Veteran’s circumstances contributed to his back problems and it was service connected as a primary connection. No nexus letter was provided. No documentation in the service medical records of back issues while in service.
Always seek the counsel of accredited VA and medical professionals when making disability claims. Don’t rely on your buddies, claim help that are not medical and legal professionals, paid consultants, or the internet. Look to people who do this for a living and are responsible and ethically accountable to you.