Secondary Disability VA Rating

Want a higher VA disability rating?  Many veterans service-connected disabilities cause them additional physical problems.  Those veterans should often receive a higher disability rating from VA.

Unfortunately, many veterans overlook the ways that some of their conditions are service-connected.  You need to know the basics of this way to service-connect a disability so you won’t be one of those veterans who is not receiving the full benefits you deserve.

Man holding his back in pain What is a Secondary Disability?

Many veterans do not apply for benefits for secondary conditions because they do not realize they are eligible. They only think in terms of direct service-connection, which is when there is a nexus between a current disability and an in-service event, injury, or disease.  In other words, A causes B.

A secondary condition, also known as a secondary disability, is a disability that is the result of another service-connected condition. In this scenario, A causes B.  Then, B causes C, so C is service-connected.

If you develop a medical condition because of a service-connected condition, then the medical condition that you develop is probably service-connected as well. But, you have to file for it.

What are some of the ways a secondary condition can develop?

There are several common ways that secondary conditions develop. I have listed a few of them below:

Pill bottles with pills on the table

As a result of medical treatment for a service-connected condition

The treatment that is necessary for a medical condition can often cause another medical condition to develop.  One example is pain medication which could cause liver problems, kidney problems and stomach problems.

Another example is surgery.  Even if done carefully, surgery has risks and could cause other medical conditions to develop.

Other times, the progression of the disease leads to other complications that can become disabling as well.  A frequent example we see is Vietnam veterans who develop diabetes as a result of Agent Orange exposure.  As a result of their diabetes, they then develop peripheral neuropathy in their feet and legs.

Whether it is the result of medical treatment or a known complication of the underlying service-connected disability, it is important to remember you must file for benefits for the secondary condition if you want to receive VA disability compensation.

As a result of everyday life

Certain injuries and disabilities put additional stress on other parts of the body.  A serious injury to your right arm might cause you to overuse your left arm.  An ankle or knee injury may cause you to walk in such a way that you put stress on other parts of your body.  If a service-connected condition puts stress on another part of your body that causes another condition to develop, then that other condition should be a secondary condition

A doctor looking at x-ray results As a result of presumptions from VA

VA has some regulations that provide presumptions for the development of certain secondary conditions.  One example is traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).  Veterans with a service-connected traumatic brain injury that develop certain medical conditions (unprovoked seizures, symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, dementia, depression, and certain hormone deficiencies) may receive a presumption that these medical conditions are secondary to the traumatic brain injury.

Whether the presumption will apply depends on how severe the TBI was and the time between the TBI and the development of the secondary condition.  The benefit of the presumption is that the veteran does not have to demonstrate nexus between the service-connected condition and the secondary condition.

Aggravation of a preexisting condition can also count as a Secondary Disability

So far in this post, I have talked in terms of the underlying service connected condition causing the secondary disability.  However, you can still service-connect a secondary condition you already had.  You can do this if your your service-connected conditions aggravated or worsened that condition.

For example, a veteran with non-service-connected low back problems may also have a service-connected knee problem.  If that knee problem causes a limp that makes the back condition worse than it otherwise would have been, VA should service-connect the low back aggravation on a secondary basis.

Filing Is Easy, But Winning May Be Harder

VA Form 21-526b is a one page application for secondary service-connection.  While this should be simple to complete, the VA may not determine your condition to be service-connected on the initial application.  Many times, claims examiners are only looking for direct-service connection.  If that happens and you don’t have an event, injury, or disease in service that led to this disability, VA may deny your claim.

What VA examiners should do instead is look for a medical nexus between your other service-connected disabilities and the one for which you are now seeking benefits.  It may not always be obvious.

In fact, it may requires some specific opinions from medical professionals to succeed.  This is where a veterans disability attorney can help.

Travis Studdard is an attorney who focuses on representing veterans in VA disability compensation claims.  He regularly writes about issues that are important to veterans and their families.

You can subscribe to his Veterans Disability channel on YouTube.

I could not have asked for a better lawyer to represent my worker comp. case. Any questions I had during the process was always answered in a timely manner. Mr. Perkins really cared about insuring that I wasn't being taken advantage of during this process and helped us reach a settlement that I feel comfortable with. I would recommend this firm to my parents or children.syndel Laber
I'm so thankful and grateful for all the hard work Jason, Tina and Liz did for me. They went above and beyond to get the best outcome for me. They took the to explain everything that was going on with my case again I'm so thankful grateful and happy with the outcome of my workers comp case.Adrian Adams
First off, I must say thank you again to the office of Perkins Studdard. I appreciate all the hard work and dedication your office has shown to achieve a successful and happy outcome. You have forever changed my family’s life! Also, I wanted to give a special shoutout to Jessica Hyatt for her excellent attitude, advice, and overall professionalism throughout every step of this process. This journey has finally been complete after more than a decade of being denied and almost giving up. However, two of my old coworkers advised me that the office of Perkins Studdard had also successfully helped them achieve their proper rating too. Needless to say, this has been one of my best decisions in life. I can now sleep a little better and stress free knowing I finally got what I deserved all along. Once again, thank you for everything! And shoutout to Travis Studdard, “we did it.” Respectfully, Jonathon FloresJonathon Flores
My family and I are so grateful for Jason Perkins and his team. Jason explains thing's to detail and walks you through every step of your case. I would highly recommend Perkins Studdard for your legal needs. Thank you so much Jason and Tina!Chapin & Lea Anne Warner
The best I know for workers comp attorney'sDenise Williams
Jason really has helped me so much through this hard experience I have went through! And the ladies in the office was wonderful with any and everything I had questions about! I highly recommend using this lawyer office to everyone and Jason Perkins for sure!! Thank y'all for everything and making it easier to get through this long though experience! James HammittJames Hammitt
Thank you so much ! I received excellent representation from the entire Perkins Studdard Law firm, my VA claim was resolved and granted in a timely manner, they were hands on with me during the entire process. I would definitely recommend the firm to any veteran deciding to file a VA claim.Darrell Lynn
I would like to thank the law firm of Perkins-Studdard (Travis) and his team, for performing such an outstanding job, at every possible level, during my recent situation with the VA Disability Claims . From the first time I called and spoke with Mr Studdard with an overview of my situation, until the final settlement was executed (successfully I may add), I always felt that I was in good hands with this firm. Everyone in the office, Jessica, and April were responsive, approachable, knowledgeable, good listeners, and extremely professional. Mr. Studdard was realistic of the circumstances and of the potential difficult process that would lay ahead, should I proceed. I can’t say enough about Travis, and I will always be thankful to him. Travis was committed, and he instilled a real sense of confidence during both the highs and the lows. He ultimately prevailed and the outcome was very much in my favor. Of course, each case is different on its own merits and one can never predict how things ultimately will turn out. All I know is that the settlement far exceeded my expectation. Mr. Studdard has been a blessing to me. I strongly recommend that anyone who would find themselves in a similar legal situation with the VA to contact Law Offices of Perkins Studdard for a consultation. It was a very positive experience given the circumstances. Thank you again, I shall forever be in your debt.Concetta Hogg
Mr. Perkins, I cannot express enough how thankful I am for your exceptional representation. Your hard work, expertise, and unwavering commitment to my case have left an indelible mark. Thanks to you, I can now move forward with my life, confident that justice has been served.Esli Roque
Travis and his team have been a blessing for me and my family. They have done an amazing job in helping me navigate the VA appeals process. They kept their eye on the ball all the way through the long, difficult and confusing process. I highly recommend Travis and his team because thanks to their professionalism and know how, I got the benefits I deserve.Daniel patriot

Related Posts


Font Size: