Pre-existing Conditions Aggravated by Military Service 

Most veterans who have some pre-existing conditions may believe that VA will reject their claims for an aggravated condition since it existed prior to the service. Most often, these aggravated injuries are depicted by veterans as an exacerbation of their conditions. 

However, veterans that have some pre-existing medical condition, whether injuries or diseases, are entitled to a VA claim benefit as long as they supply clear and unmistakable evidence of the ailment that their condition aggravated during their active service and a precise calculation of their VA disability rating. 

You can get a VA disability calculator, which will help you figure out how much compensation you are eligible for. A rating calculator is also instrumental in understanding the level of compensation you can receive for an aggravated pre-existing condition. 

Before understanding the steps on filing a VA aggravated claim, let us confirm what are the specific conditions aggravating the military service and what are its evaluations.

What is Aggravated by Military Service  

As per 38 CFR 3.306, “A preexisting injury or disease will be considered to have been aggravated by active military, naval, air, or space service, where there is an increase in disability during such service, unless there is a specific finding that the increase in disability is due to the natural progress of the disease.” 

Although there are various compensations and rewards for joining the military, it can impact your mental and physical health. The long hours, coupled with living in a challenging environment and under military conditions, can lead to constant stress, both mentally and physically. Staying in a conflict zone without any relief may heighten the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), clinical depression, or social anxiety. 

Further psychological injuries can also be the result of homesickness and a complete lack of communication between active soldiers and their loved ones, putting a possible strain on relationships. 

In this context, it is essential to understand the difference between exacerbation and aggravation. An exacerbation pertains to the temporary increase in the mentioned symptoms, while aggravation is a permanent increase in the severity of the underlying ailment, which affects your overall livelihood. 

Aggravation of a preexisting condition is therefore more valuable than an exacerbation of the medical disability, and determination of this claim requires proper deliberation and evaluation from the VA. Here is how.  

How VA Evaluates Aggravated Conditions Related to Military Service  

The pre-existing conditions aggravated by military service are established, and the VA disability aggravated procedure presumes that the increased injury is caused by their active line of service under these evaluations. 

The veteran elicits that their conditions existed prior to service and were worsened during service with valid medical evidence and opinions from the experts. 

The progress of the preexisting condition is beyond the natural development of the claimed condition. 

In these assessments, VA will only supply compensation for veterans if the disability worsens more than it would have without their service. 

It is important to know that conditions that existed before active service do not have a direct link to service, since the condition was already there before deployment. However, if the said symptoms or disease worsens during service, it is considered service-aggravated. 

How Does the VA Rate a VA Disability Pre-existing Condition?   

If there really is a pre-existing condition that can be proven by a proper medical test, VA will give this condition its own disability rating. 

The actual rating depends on the symptoms and how they can be treated or kept under control. In this case, the VA will give a higher disability rating if it is very bad or hard to treat. 

Your overall disability rating is based on the sum of all your pre-existing disability ratings and service-related disability ratings. If you have multiple service-connected disabilities, VA will use a different formula to calculate your overall rating. 

The formula will gauge the severity of each disability and its correlation with the others, and the diagnostics and documentation surrounding your pre-existing condition will hold significant value in pinpointing the overall disability rating. 

Example Scenarios for VA Disability Aggravated Condition 

Medical conditions, both physical and mental, that exist before service are accounted for as a “pre-existing condition.” Here are some of the example scenarios: 

  • Residual diseases such as scars or healed injuries—whether or not diagnoses are conducted depends on whether the pre-service physical exam detected or documented the condition before deployment. 
  • Medical records or military records that indicate a diagnosis of the condition prior to service are the most convincing pieces of evidence used to suggest a pre-existing disease. 
  • Witness testimonies or accounts: these arguments would be used if the VA wanted to assert that the ailment existed even though it wasn’t documented upon induction. 

Some of the conditions that are most commonly aggravated are the following: 

  • Flat feet   
  • Generalized anxiety disorder 
  • Hip injuries   
  • Heart conditions   
  • Eye or ear conditions 
  • Back pain (like spina bifida or scoliosis) 
  • Muscle injuries  
  • Herniated discs   
  • Depressive disorder   
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder   
  • Diabetes   
  • Bone fractures   
  • Knee injuries   
  • Traumatic brain injury 
  • Stress fractures   
  • Neck pain   
  • Asthma   
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Kidney disease
  • Sleep disorders   
  • Allergies   
  • Respiratory disorders   
  • Infectious diseases   
  • Genetic Condition   

Genetic Conditions Aggravated by Service  

Most of the pre-existing conditions that develop during the active line of duty are genetic conditions or hereditary disorders that may go unnoticed even during physical examination. Some of them are:  

  • Sickle Cell Anemia  
  • Hemophilia  
  • Von Willebrand Disease  
  • Thalassemia  
  • Lupus  
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis  

These conditions result in issues that amplify the pain during active duty.   

Filing a VA Aggravated Claim  

It is important that you have your medical records at your disposal for filing a VA aggravated claim. It is also critical that the result of the aggravating injuries and conditions be permanent to guarantee approval of the VA aggravating claim. 

Here at Just4Veterans, we aim to support each veteran in navigating their VA disability claims, especially for the conditions that worsened during their active line of duty. You may visit our webpage here so you can avail of and understand the services that we provide. 

After you served our country, it is now our turn to serve you. If you have any further questions about aggravated claims or other disability claims, you may reach us at [email protected] or book a strategy call here to learn more. 

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DISCLAIMER : Just4Veterans LLC is NOT an accredited agent, attorney, entity or VSO recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and is not affiliated with the VA in any way. Veterans shall prepare and file their own claim with an accredited representative, who may offer their services for FREE. Veterans may search for and appoint an accredited VSO.