Many veterans are aware that they can file for direct service-connected conditions. But, what they don’t know is that they can file for a secondary condition.
So what’s a secondary condition? A secondary service-connected claim can be filed for a secondary condition that is caused or made worse by an already existing service-connected condition.
For example, if a veteran develops knee problems as a result of a change in the way they walk due to a service rated hip injury, the veteran can claim the knee issue as a secondary condition. Of course, there must be medical evidence that the two issues are related; however, there is no need to prove that the knee issue occurred during service.
Commonly Claimed Secondary Conditions
Side Effects of Prescription Medication
Veterans often take prescription medication for their conditions. Often, these medications have side-effects associated with taking them. A good example is Nonsteroidal anti–inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDS, commonly found in Ibuprofen, provides pain relief. However, it is the primary cause of problems such as GERD. In some cases after prolonged use of these pills, veterans can file GERD as secondary to NSAIDs prescribed for the treatment of a service-connected condition.
Mental Health Issues
In many cases, veterans who experience painful service-connected physical conditions often experience depression. Pain, injuries, and mental conditions can cause their victims to become depressed.
Orthopedic secondary conditions like the example given at the beginning of the article usually have success. As time goes on, hip, knee, or foot problems can cause the veteran to overcorrect. This causes change with gait and posture, which then affects other body parts.
What do you Need to Win Your Secondary Claim
The way to successfully win a claim is to have substantial evidence to support it. Medical evidence is a key piece of evidence. One of the requirements when filing a secondary claim is that the secondary conditions must have a diagnosis. A veteran cannot submit just symptoms alone. For example, if the veteran was looking to tie a knee problem to a service-connected hip condition, that knee problem must be diagnosed. The veteran cannot simply say the knee hurts. Note, the diagnosis can come from any medical professional.
You should support a direct service connected condition and a secondary condition with medical documentation. A nexus statement can help tie the two conditions together.
Final Word On Secondary Claim
Veterans overlook secondary claims. Secondary conditions can increase an overall VA Rating with proper documentation. Contact Veterans Guardian if you have any questions about secondary claims or how we can help.