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When we marry our spouse, we take them into our lives, faults and all.

Same goes for the military service:  when they accept a soldier/sailor/airman into the military, they take them with all the medical conditions that pre-existed service, known or not.

What happens, though, when a service connected condition makes one of these “pre-existing” conditions worse?

You may be able to service connect the pre-existing injury using a method called “Service Connection via Aggravation.”  This type of service-connection should be considered when you had a condition that pre-dated your military service, and your time in service made that condition worse.

Roadblocks to Service Connection by Aggravation.

There are a couple of major roadblocks you will have to overcome in this type of claim. The major roadblock is that the VA almost ALWAYS screws this up – even after admonitions from the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. 

The VA is supposed to presume you were physically and mentally sound when you entered the service, unless your entrance physical “makes note of” a pre-existing condition.

If your entrance physical DOES make note of the pre-existing condition – meaning notes the actual condition not just similar symptoms – then the VA should apply the presumption of aggravation.

If your entrance physical  does not make note of the pre-existing condition, the VA would apply the presumption of soundness.  Check out this post that explains this presumption, and how the VA might overcome it.

Service Connection by Aggravation is, well, Aggravating.

The VA often messes it up.  The BVA frequently confuses which presumption applies and when.   Many practitioners struggle with the finer distinctions, too.

In this area of Veterans Benefits, there is no substitute for good legal advice from an accredited Veterans Benefits Attorney.


Here are some more posts you might want to check out:

Find out how to get the MOST IMPORTANT Document in Your VA Claim.

What are all these New Blog Categories (Shoot, Move and Communicate) about?

What is Direct Service Connection?

When the Law PRESUMES Service-Connection.

Service Connection of Secondary Conditions.

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By Chris Attig

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