There Are Special Rules for Veterans With Arthritis, Hypertension, and Other Chronic Conditions

Arthritis and Hypertension are just two common conditions in an extensive list that the VA will grant presumptive service connection for if the symptoms manifest to a certain degree within one year after discharge from service. dreamstime_s_84139689-300x200

Usually, when a Veteran files a claim for disability benefits from the VA, he or she must show three things: (1) a current compensable condition, (2) an in-service event or injury, and (3) a direct link between the two.  With presumptive service connection, the Veteran only has to show that he or she has a current compensable condition and that he or she has met the other requirements for the presumption.  For chronic condition presumptive service, the requirements are[1]:

  1. The Veteran served for ninety days or more during a period of war,
  2. A chronic condition listed under 38 C.F.R. § 3.309(a) became manifest within a prescribed period (one year after discharge from service, except leprosy, tuberculosis, and multiple sclerosis, which are three years, three years, and seven years, respectively), and
  3. This manifestation within one-year has to rise to the level of 10% under the VA disability rating schedule in 38 C.F.R. §4.40-4.150.

Several Chronic Conditions Are Accepted By The VA

The complete list of VA accepted chronic conditions is listed under 38 C.F.R. § 3.309(a) and includes such common conditions for Veterans as, but is not limited to, anemia; arteriosclerosis; stones of the kidney, bladder, or gallbladder; cirrhosis of the liver; diabetes; psychoses; Raynaud’s disease; and gastric or duodenal ulcers.

If the Veteran does not have one of the listed chronic conditions diagnosed within one year of discharge, then the Veteran should detail continuity of symptomatology by showing:

  1. Evidence that a condition, or symptoms of a condition, was noted during the presumptive period;
  2. Evidence that the Veteran still has the same condition or symptoms of that same condition; and
  3. Competent evidence that the Veteran’s symptoms have continued from within one-year after discharge up to the current time.

What Kind of Evidence is Acceptable?

For evidence to be competent, it must either come from a person who has actual first-hand knowledge of the facts or circumstances being reported[2] or comes from a person who is qualified through education, training, or experience to offer medical diagnoses, statements, or opinions.[3]  For example, a Veteran’s spouse or co-worker can submit a statement in support of the Veteran’s claim stating that they personally witnessed a certain set of symptoms first manifest in the Veteran, starting on a specific date and continuing up to the present day.  A medical doctor, psychologist, or another expert can also submit a statement that a Veteran’s symptoms which manifest on a certain date were symptoms of a particular chronic condition and that this chronic condition is the same condition that the Veteran currently suffers with.  It is also recommended that the Veteran submit Medical treatise or reputable medical website evidence showing that the reported symptoms are symptoms of a specific chronic condition.

Tod is a service-connected veteran of the United States Army and a partner at the law firm of Grimes Teich Anderson, LLP, in charge of the firm’s Veterans Law section.  His firm has offices in North and South Carolina, and his veterans practice is national.

[1] 38 U.S.C. §1112(a); 38 C.F.R. §3.307.

[2] 38 C.F.R. § 3.159 (a)(2).

[3] 38 C.F.R. § 3.159 (a)(1).

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