Most conditions themselves are eligible for VA disability benefits if they meet certain conditions. These conditions include:
- You must be a veteran of the U.S. military
- You must have an honorable discharge
- You must have a condition that is connected to your military service: a direct connection, an aggravated connection, a secondary connection, or a presumptive connection
Circumstances that would make you ineligible for disability benefits include:
- A dishonorable discharge
- A disability caused by the veteran’s own misconduct
- An injury or disability resulting from the vet being AWOL, avoiding duty, or detained because of a court-martial
Conditions that are generally considered ineligible include:
- Pre-existing conditions (prior to service) that cannot be proven to have been worsened by service or are worsening due to the natural progression of the condition
- Personality disorders (generally considered pre-existing)
- Learning or developmental disorders
- Impulse control issues
- Substance abuse
- Congenital or genetic conditions
How to Reverse Ineligibility
If your circumstances or conditions suggest that you might be ineligible for VA disability benefits, don’t give up. You may still be able to get benefits, under certain circumstances.
Dishonorable discharge or misconduct: You may be able to apply for a Discharge Upgrade or a Character of Discharge review if you can show that your behavior was connected to a service-related injury or condition, such as PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI), sexual assault, or the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
Personality disorders, learning disorders, impulse control, substance abuse: If you can demonstrate that any of these were caused directly or secondarily by a service-related injury or condition, you may be eligible for compensation. For instance, if PTSD caused you to turn to alcohol to cope and you developed health problems from alcoholism, this could be eligible. If you developed substance addiction due to painkillers from a service-related injury, this could be eligible. If personality disorders, learning disorders, or impulse control issues can be connected to TBI, these could be eligible. However, the primary conditions – PTSD, injury, TBI, or whatever the underlying cause – must be medically diagnosed and ratable.
Congenital or genetic conditions: By definition, these are caused at or near birth or are hereditary and therefore are not service-related. However, if the condition worsens due to military service and not because of the natural progression of the condition, it may be eligible. Further, if a genetic condition develops later in life while the service member is in the military, it will be assumed service-aggravated, unless it is shown that it would have developed at the exact same time and in the same way, even if the veteran was not in the service.
An additional exception to the rule of genetic or congenital conditions: if a service member is on active duty for 8 or more years, the conditions are considered service-connected according to the Department of Defense, though not according to the VA.
Get Help with Your Claims
As you can see, there are many rules and exceptions in the VA benefits process. You will get the best results by consulting a VA-approved attorney. We at the Law Office of Robert B. Goss are veterans ourselves who have personally had to navigate the VA disability application process. We know how difficult it is and we have dedicated ourselves to helping you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to see how we can help you.