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Why Your Veterans Disability Claim Might Be Denied

The Lawyers of Brown & Roberto assist veterans whose claims have been denied, or who are seeking increased ratings. Why might your veterans disability claim be denied?

You Were Unable to Establish a Connection Between Your Disability and Your Military Service

Many Veterans’ claims are denied because the applicant was unable to establish a service connection for his or her disability. It is not enough to show that you have a physical or mental impairment. You must be able to demonstrate that the impairment is a result of your military service.

There are several ways to establish a service connection to your disability. The law does not require you to prove that you were specifically diagnosed with a disability or illness while you were in military service. What is required is for there to be a connection – or “nexus” to use VA’s term – between your military service and the claimed injury or disability.

You may be entitled to benefits if your current disability can be linked to an incident that occurred while you were in military service, or if a pre-existing condition was aggravated by your service, or it may be presumed to be connected to your exposure to certain chemicals while in specific locations (such as Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan). You may also be entitled to benefits if a condition or illness develops that is secondary to a disability that is definitely due to your service – for example, back pains that come from walking in an usual manner, when one or both legs were injured in combat, boot camp, or a training accident.

As a Result of Your Discharge Status

It is possible that a disability claim will be denied if the Veteran received a discharge that was not either Honorable or General (Under Honorable Conditions). The types of discharges – or “bad paper” – that VA says prohibit disability benefits are:

  • Undesirable (now called Under Other than Honorable Conditions, or UOTHC)
  • Bad Conduct
  • Dishonorable (which is also known as a Dismissal for officers)

Unfortunately, some Veterans were given administrative discharges that were “bad” due to multiple episodes of minor misconduct, or certain types of drug offenses. Other Veterans got their bad discharges from courts-martial.

In some situations, it is possible to request a discharge upgrade from the Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR). Each military service also has its own Board. If a discharge upgrade is granted, this new discharge can be presented to VA to show that a Veteran is eligible for disability benefits. A discharge upgrade from the BCMR is binding on VA.

It is also possible, even without action by the BCMR, for VA to determine that a Veteran’s Character of Discharge (COD) does not qualify him or her for benefits – in other words, that it is dishonorable. (The term here has a different meaning than the worst kind of discharge from a court-martial.) This decision can be appealed; if it is not overturned, VA will deny the Veteran Disability benefits.

It is important to remember that a Veteran who has multiple enlistments may qualify for VA Disability benefits because an injury or illness occurred in a period of service that resulted in an Honorable or a General discharge. This may be true even if the last enlistment ended with “bad” paper that would otherwise be disqualifying.

Call Today for a Free Consultation

The Lawyers of Brown & Roberto are serious veterans disability lawyers, who know how to win. If your veterans disability claim has been denied, give us a call at (865) 691-2777 or contact us through our website Brown & Roberto, PLLC to set up a free consultation.

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