Service connection for any disability requires three elements. First, the Veteran must have had an injury, illness, or event which first presented or occurred in active-duty service. Second, the Veteran must have a current disability which is related to the in-service event. Finally, the Veteran must have a medical “nexus” statement linking the condition in service to the current disability. This blog is focusing on the first prong of service connection, the event in active-duty service.
Generally, the Veteran’s period of active-duty service can be easily identified by the Veteran’s DD-214. The DD-214 will include periods of active-duty service during which the Veteran may be eligible for disability compensation benefits from the VA. However, when the Veteran is a National Guard or Reservist, without any period of true active-duty service in the armed forces, the period of active-duty service can be more difficult to pinpoint.
Unless otherwise activated for a period of active-duty service, National Guard and Reservist’s periods of active duty usually come in the form of either active duty for training or inactive duty for training.
38 C.F.R. 3.6(c) defines “Active Duty for Training” as full-time duty in Armed Forces performed by Reserves for training purposes. “Inactive Duty for Training” is defined as duty, other than full-time duty, including special additional duties authorized for Reserves by an authority designated by the Secretary concerned and performed by them on a voluntary basis. Inactive duty for training does not include: 1. Work or study performed in connection with correspondence courses; 2. Attendance at an educational institution in an inactive status; or 3. Duty performed as a temporary member of the Coast Guard Reserve.
Ultimately, the key to determining whether Veteran’s conditions should be service connected is if the injury or illness occurred “in the line of duty.” Often times when there is an injury either in active duty for training, or inactive duty for training, the Service Department will generally conduct a “Line of Duty” determination. The report generated from that investigation will likely indicate that some event happened in service.
However, whenever there is no line of duty determination and no additional medical evidence showing that the event occurred, service connection of a disability for these Reservist and National Guard becomes much more difficult. The experienced attorneys at Gardberg and Kemmerly can assist you in reviewing your claims file to determine the best argument to be made for occurrence “within the line of duty.”
If you have a question regarding your eligibility for VA disability compensation benefits, the Veterans’ Disability attorneys at Gardberg and Kemmerly want to help in any way possible. Please call our office and speak with one of our qualified Veterans’ Disability attorneys. Gardberg and Kemmerly is committed to helping injured and disabled Veterans obtain the benefits they deserve. If you need help with a disability claim, call the office at 251-343-1111 or 1-800-332-1529 for a free consultation. Gardberg and Kemmerly is proud to serve Veterans across the country from our home office in Mobile, Alabama. We would love an opportunity to discuss your claim.