What Is Va Secondary Service Connection
In accordance with 38 CFR § 3.310 disabilities that are proximately due to, or aggravated by, service-connected disease or injury, a current disability condition, which is proximately due to or the result of a service-connected disease or injury shall be service connected.
Service connection on a secondary basis requires a showing of causation.
A showing of causation requires that the secondary VA disability claim is proximately due to or aggravated by another service-connected disability.
There are three key elements that must be satisfied to prove VA secondary service connection under the law:
- A medical diagnosis of the secondary VA disability youre attempting to link to the current service connected disability AND
- A current service-connected primary disability AND
- Medical nexus evidence establishing a connection between the service-connected primary condition AND the current disability youre trying to connect secondary
The FIRST part can be satisfied with any existing medical evidence in service treatment records, VA medical records, or any private medical records.
The SECOND part can be satisfied with a veterans existing service-connected disability rated at 0% or higher.
The THIRDpart, and often the missing link needed to establish secondary service connection, can be satisfied with a credible Medical Nexus Letter from a qualified medical provider.
Did you know there are HUNDREDS of common secondary VA claims that you can get service connected by law?
Va Disability For Parkinsons Disease
Berry LawAgent Orange
Parkinsons disease is a very serious progressive brain disorder, meaning it gradually gets worse over time. According to Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit medical center, typical symptoms associated with the disease include tremors, slowed movement, rigid muscles, balance problems, loss of automatic movements, speech changes, and writing changes.
Anybody who has been diagnosed with Parkinsons is dealing with a serious disorder that can drastically change your life. However, Veterans may be able to receive VA disability for Parkinsons disease if they can prove it was caused by military service.
Factors Outside Of General Requirements
Outside of the general requirements to qualify for VA disability benefits in the first place, there are several factors the VA looks at.
These factors, taken as a whole, dictate the compensation rating you will receive. The benefits are distributed using a rate between 0% and 100% at 10% increments.
The VA uses a complex formula to make their determination. You can find the relevant factors . Still, here are some of the more notable factors that can increase your disability rating if applicable:
- If you are suffering from more than one disability at the same time
- If your Parkinsons disease worsens
- The way and degree to which Parkinsons is impeding your life and ability to work
- Your age
- Changes in Social Security benefits to counter inflation
- If you have children, a spouse, and other dependents
- If your spouse or dependents have a disability and
- If you lose a limb or the ability to use a bodily function .
All of those factors will impact your VA disability compensation rating. After your initial rating, you can periodically apply to increase your rating.
Similarly, there are some circumstances in which the VA can lower your rating. Typically, rate reductions dont apply to Parkinsons disease claims because Parkinsons worsens over time. Still, it is something you should be aware of.
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Receiving A Presumptive Service Connection For Parkinson’s Disease
The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown. Both environmental and genetic factors are thought to play a role. In some cases, this includes exposure to Agent Orange while serving in the U.S. military.
Agent Orange is a tactical herbicide that was used to clear leaves and vegetation for military operations from 1962 to 1975. Veterans may have been exposed to Agent Orange if they served during this time period in Vietnam, the Korean Demilitarized Zone, or on Thai Air Force bases. They may also have been exposed if they flew on or worked on C-123 Aircraft or were stationed at locations where herbicides were tested or stored.
There is no level of Agent Orange exposure that is considered safe, which means the VA has no length of service requirement before a Veteran is eligible for a presumptive service connection. Any amount of exposure, even if it was for a few days or few weeks, qualifies.
To receive a presumptive service connection, a Veteran will need to submit medical records showing that have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and military service records showing when and where they served. A Veteran is not required to have an Agent Orange health registry exam to get benefits. This exam is for Veterans with presumed exposure who want to monitor any symptoms that could be of concern before they have been formally diagnosed with an Agent Orange-related illness.
Tdiu And Smc For Parkinsons Disease
Because Parkinsons Disease is such a disabling condition that affects daily functioning, veterans may qualify for Special Monthly Compensation . SMC is a monthly benefit for veterans who have service-connected conditions that result in severe impairment.
Further, total disability based on individual unemployability may be an option if a veterans condition prevents them from securing and/or holding gainful employment. With TDIU veterans will be paid at the 100% rating regardless of their combined disability ratings.
Veterans Help Group have been supporting veterans in getting the benefits they deserve since 1995. If you or a loved one served, and suffer from Parkinsons Disease, we are here to help. Call Veterans Help Group at 855-855-8992 or complete our free veterans benefits case evaluation form.
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Service Connection For Parkinsons Disease
Some former service members may be eligible for direct service connection, meaning something happened in military service that caused your Parkinsons or the disease was first diagnosed or manifested during service. This service connection is not easy to prove and will almost always require an independent medical opinion to show that you were beginning to show signs of Parkinsons during service or a particular chemical you were exposed to caused the condition.
What Benefits Can You Claim If You Have Parkinsons
There are a couple of benefits you can claim if you have Parkinsons, which are SSDI benefits and Medicare. The first being Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI.
SSDI benefits are one of the two programs that the Social Security Administration offers and it is for those who at one point were able to work, but can no longer work for at least 12 months because of a disability or a severe ailment like Parkinsons Disease.
In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you need to be deemed disabled by the SSA and you need to have a sufficient amount of work credits.
Work credits are calculated by your age and how long you have worked. If you are SSDI benefits, under certain conditions, your family members like children under the age of 18 or your spouse.
The other benefit that you can claim if you have Parkinsons is Medicare. Medicare is a federal program for those with disabilities and for people 65 and over.
If you qualify for SSDI benefits with Parkinsons, you will also qualify for Medicare as well. You automatically get Medicare Part A and Part B after you get one of these:
- Disability benefits from Social Security for 24 months
- Certain disability benefits from the RRB for 24 months
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Orthopedic Problems Related To Parkinsons Disease
While Parkinsons Disease is a neurological disorder, it can quite frequently cause orthopedic problems. Falls from Parkinsons are frequent, both from the movement symptoms as well as the orthostatic hypotension noted above. As Parkinsons frequently attacks the elderly, their bones may be brittle and easily break during a fall. To make matters worse, Parkinsons sufferers have an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. This is believed to be due to a loss of bone mass resulting from the fact that PD sufferers tend to move around a lot less than non-sufferers.
In those sufferers who have had severe falls or needed spinal or other surgery, the tremors associated with Parkinsons often severely affect recovery, or make total recovery nearly impossible. A cast is designed to reduce movement of a recovering limb involuntary tremors are not helpful in this regard.
Psychiatric Problems and Parkinsons Disease
Both Parkinsons itself, as well as the medications used to treat it, can have severe psychiatric effects that can often be extremely debilitating. Dementia is common, and PD sufferers often experience cognitive problems, attention problems, as well as depression, anxiety, and even psychosis.
Other Issues related to Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons Disease And Traumatic Brain Injuries
Additionally, a 2018 study published in Neurology, demonstrated an increased risk of Parkinsons disease and parkinson like symptoms from traumatic brain injuries the report used U.S. military and VAs databases to identify vets with TBIs to study.
Below, well get into certain environmental factors, such as occupational exposure to chemicals, that have been linked to Parkinsons.
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Seek The Counsel Of A Social Security Attorney When Applying For Disability With Parkinson’s Disease
If you or a member of your family has been diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease, the symptoms which prompted the diagnosis may also serve as the qualifications for Social Security Disability benefits.
With the amount of documentation necessary to prove the presence of these qualifying criteria, it would likely be in your best interests to have your case evaluated by a Social Security Disability attorney who may be able to help with your claim.
While the degree of impairment caused by these symptoms may seem obvious to you, having them sufficiently documented so their impact is adequately illustrated on paper is imperative to receiving a positive decision from the Social Security Administration.
Working in close collaboration with your healthcare providers, a Social Security Disability attorney or disability advocate can be sure the proper documents are provided when your application is submitted so your benefits can begin as soon as possible.
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Examples Of Bradykinesia Va Disability Ratings
The VAs approach to bradykinesia varies widely depending on the case. This is a good thing because it allows the VA to tailor its rating for your case of bradykinesia. For example, in one reported case, a veteran who experienced bradykinesia in his upper extremities was entitled to a 20% disability rating for his non-dominant arm and 30% for his dominant arm. These residual ratings will be aggregated using VA math to produce an overall VA disability rating of 40%.
In another case, a veteran who experienced bradykinesia in his left leg was entitled to a 40% disability rating because it was accompanied by stooped posture and stiffness and weakness in the leg. Besides these, the veterans left foot would drag, and his gait would freeze while walking.
Parkinsons Disease And Military Burn Pit Exposure
Open-air burn pits are large areas of land that were used as a means of waste disposal on American bases in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Djibouti after September 11, 2001. The practice was effective in reducing large quantities of waste, but the pits emitted plumes of toxic smoke. The following materials have been linked to military burn pits:
- Human waste
As these wastes were burned, harmful chemicals and toxic fumes were released into the atmosphere. As such, many veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom have developed health conditions from hazardous exposures caused by these burn pits.
Burning hazardous materials and chemicals in open-air pits emits toxic substances and carcinogens that can cause a host of diseases, some severe and even deadly. Both Parkinsons Disease and Parkinsonism have been linked to these burn pits.
Research continues to be done to investigate what other conditions may be caused by burn pit exposure, but the full extent of the harm burn pits have caused is not yet known. However, research has indicated that one of the known chemical compounds released by burn pits includes the dioxin
While VA does acknowledge certain conditions as being eligible for presumptive service connection if the veteran can prove exposure to Agent Orange, VA has not established a presumption for veterans exposed to burn pits. Since there is no presumption, VA adjudicates burn pit claims on a case-by-case basis.
Some General Notes On Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons disease is a neurodegenerative disorder. That means that it adversely affects your brain.
Specifically, Parkinsons disease impairs your brains ability to produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine affects everything from movement and balance to concentration and mood.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Parkinsons disease at this time. Thus, it makes sense that Parkinsons disease qualifies as a disability in the eyes of the federal government.
The Department of Veterans Affairs , the Social Security Administration , and the U.S. Department of Labor all consider Parkinsons disease a covered disability under their respective programs.
Selected Major Accomplishments In Va Research
- 2001: six VA Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Centers
- 2003:Initiated a landmark clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of deep brain stimulation for PD
- 2009:Determined that DBS may hold significant benefits for people with PD who no longer respond to medication
- 2014:Found that walking is a safe and accessible way to improve PD symptoms
- 2015:Developed a procedureto convert fibroblasts into dopamine neurons
- 2017:Found that DBS in PD patients gives a slight survival advantage
- 2019: Found that fatigue in PD patients may be a result of lower diastolic blood pressure
- 2020: Teamed up with the Parkinsons Foundation to support Veterans living with PD
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Agent Orange & Parkinsons Disease
Agent Orange was used in chemical warfare during the Vietnam War. Since then, Vietnam veterans have developed a variety of symptoms related to Agent Orange exposureincluding Parkinsons Disease.
There is research that is starting to show exposure to certain chemicals do cause Parkinsons Disease, and some of those chemicals such as TCE and PCE have been found in the water of Camp Lejeune. There is also evidence that Agent Orange herbicide exposure causes Parkinsons, which the VA has now conceded. Parkinsons Disease is one of the presumptive conditions related to Agent Orange that the VA recognizes.
According to the Parkinsons Foundation, the main chemical in Agent Orange, called dioxin, is the main culprit in causing disease.
Agent Orange has also been linked to respiratory cancer, multiple myeloma, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, lymphoma, soft tissue sarcoma, and chronic b-cell leukemias. This service connection is particularly prevalent for Vietnam War veterans.
Do Not Be Discouraged
Many SSDI claims for Parkinsonian Syndrome are initially denied. Yet when represented by a disability attorney, denials often go on to be approved at the ALJ hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
Our attorneys can give you superior support in pursuing your disability benefits for Parkinsons disease and can represent your claim at any level of the appeals process. We also have the resources that can help a borderline claim based on Parkinsonian syndrome be successful.
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Service Connection Of The Veterans Parkinsons Disease Claim
By the way did you know that the Veterans Law Blog publishes the definitive guide for Veterans that want to prove these 4 pillars in their VA Claim? You can take a look at the 5+ hour Training Video here there is no other resource that has more information about HOW to prove the 4 Pillars of a VA Claim than this video.
Veterans with Parkinsons Disease must prove each of these 4 Pillars to prevail in their claim for service connection.
Typically, the 1st and 4th elements are the easiest to prove: eligibility and effective date. When it comes to proving Service Connection of a Veterans Parkinsons Disease, or establishing the impairment rating for that condition, the journey can be a little harder.
There are 5 Paths to Service Connection I encourage Veterans with Parkinsons Disease to use as many of the 5 Paths as they can.
A Veteran is not restricted to choosing only 1 path in their VA Claim.
If you would like to learn more about the 5 Paths to Service Connection as well as other information that isnt published anywhere else on the internet be sure to check out the 5 hr training video: How to Prove the 4 Pillars of a VA Service Connection claim.
Free Case Evaluation For People With Parkinson’s Disease
All too often, claimants are denied disability based on missing, inaccurate, or incomplete paperwork. As a result, the applicant must then begin on the arduous disability appeal process. Unfortunately, the this process is long and slow, resulting in excruciating delays.
A Social Security Disability lawyer can make sure you have the documents you need the first time, saving you the hassle and the delay of a lengthy disability appeal process.
To speak with a qualified Social Security Attorney about your chances of getting Social Security benefits, request a free disability evaluation today.
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