The Department of Veterans Affairs has adopted a final rule which establishes secondary service connection for certain diagnosable illnesses associated with service connected traumatic brain injuries. The rule became effective on January 16, 2014, and, although it does not provide for presumptive secondary service connection, it provides for a framework for identifying circumstances under which certain illnesses will, absent clear evidence to the contrary, be found to be the secondary result of a service connected traumatic brain injury. The VA rule promotes efficiency and consistency in claim adjudications and making it easier for qualifying claimants to establish service connection for the conditions.
The VA provides disability compensation and other benefits for disability resulting from disease or injury that is service connected, meaning that the disease or injury arose during military service, was aggravated by military service, or is otherwise causally related to military service. The VA also provides compensation for secondary service connected diseases and injuries. Secondary service connected compensation refers to disabilities which are proximately due to or a result of a service connected disease or injury and will be considered a part of the original disease or injury.
The VA rule adds five diagnosable illnesses which "shall be held to be" secondary results of traumatic brain injuries:
(1) Parkinsonism, including Parkinson's disease, manifested following moderate or severe traumatic brain injury;
(2) unprovoked seizures manifested following moderate or severe traumatic brain injury;
(3) dementias (pre-senile dementia of the Alzheimer type and post-traumatic dementia) if manifest within 15 years following moderate or severe traumatic brain injury;
(4) depression if manifest within 3 years of moderate or severe traumatic brain injury, or within 12 months of mild traumatic brain injury; and
(5) diseases of hormone deficiency that result from hypothalamo-pituitary changes if manifest within 12 months of moderate or severe traumatic brain injury.
The Rule further provides that even if your diagnosable condition following a traumatic brain injury does not meet the above severity and time period between the traumatic brain injury and the manifestation of the secondary condition, the VA will still decide your claim under generally applicable rules of service connection.
Unfortunately, our veterans here in Mobile, the state of Alabama, and throughout the nation have incurred and continue to suffer from traumatic brain injuries as a result of their military service. Contact the experienced disability attorneys at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. in Mobile, Alabama, today for a free evaluation.