The VA claims process can be tricky, especially if you are a vet trying to navigate it on your own. Veterans claim denial is a common occurrence, and even if your claim is ultimately approved, it can sometimes take years of fights and appeals through the system.
It is important to know that there are a number of presumptions that go along with every claim for benefits from a veteran. Some of these presumptions work to your benefit; others can hurt you. This article will detail the favorable or “helpful” presumptions that vets enjoy.
One of the most important presumptions that can help you to avoid veterans claim denial is that you entered into your service in good health. After all, you had to pass physical exams – how could you have done this if you weren’t in sound health? Unfortunately, the VA often tries to ignore this presumption when arguing that a disabling condition existed prior to a vet entering the service, but at least the burden of proof is on them. They are required to show, through clear and convincing evidence, that your condition was in fact preexisting.
Another presumption in your favor is that any preexisting condition that you had treated while in the service received that treatment due to it being aggravated by the nature of your service. For the VA to disprove this and issue a veterans claim denial, clear evidence is again needed. This time, they must show that the original condition got worse due to “natural progress” – with most conditions, this isn’t the easiest thing in the world, since the nature of military service often causes quite a bit of physical wear and tear.
This favorable presumption is definitely a case of taking the positive from a bad situation. If you served in Vietnam during the war, it will be presumed that you were exposed to Agent Orange. Due to this presumed exposure, if you are currently suffering from one of any number of cancers, Type II Diabetes, or numerous other disabling conditions, it will be blamed on the Agent Orange and considered to be connected to your service.
Unfortunately, just as there are favorable presumptions that generally serve to aid veterans, there are also unfavorable presumptions that allow the VA to stonewall and deny aid to veterans who need it. The next article will discuss these unfavorable presumptions in the VA claims process.