What is the Presumption of Soundness?
The Presumption of Soundness is a term used by the VA concerning the condition of a veteran at the time that veteran was examined, accepted, and enrolled for service. This comes into play when veterans file claims for compensation or service connection for disabilities later in life. The Code of Federal Regulations states that:
The veteran will be considered to have been in sound condition when examined, accepted, and enrolled for service, except as to defects, infirmities, or disorders noted at entrance into service, or where clear and unmistakable (obvious or manifest) evidence demonstrates that an injury or disease existed prior thereto and was not aggravated by such service. Only such conditions as are recorded in examination reports are to be considered as noted.
At the time a veteran entered service, he or she is presumed to be of sound mind and body, except for those conditions specifically noted at the time of entry. This is significant for a veteran filing a claim for service connection of a disability because it requires the VA to prove that the condition existed prior to the veteran's entrance into service. Meaning, the veteran does not have to prove that the condition did not exist prior to service. This presumption affords veterans the benefit of the doubt and assumes that a condition was caused by their service unless the VA can prove otherwise. The only time the presumption of soundness does not apply is when a condition is noted at the time of the veteran's entrance examination. This presumption ensures that the VA cannot deny service connection based on a pre-existing condition unless it has been noted previously. It also ensures that the burden falls on the VA to disprove a claim rather than a veteran bear the burden of affirmatively proving their disability is service connected.
For more information on Veterans Benefits and the presumption of soundness call the experienced veteran's disability attorneys at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. serve veterans throughout the Gulf Coast area, including, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Contact us today at 251-343-1111 for a free case evaluation.