Disability Compensation

Service Connection

  • Disabilities resulting from diseases or injuries incurred or aggravated while on active duty which were not caused due to misconduct. Ways to become service connected:
  • DIRECT – An incurred disability may have been directly caused by service such as an injury due to an accident or hearing loss due to loud noise, or it may be the result of some incident of service such as cancer caused by exposure to asbestos or it may have simply begun while on active duty such as diabetes.
  • AGGRAVATION – A pre-existing disability which becomes permanently worse during service.
  • PRESUMPTION – Certain chronic and tropical diseases will be presumed to have begun during service if they become manifest to a compensable degree within a specified time. Only diseases specifically listed., examples are diseases caused by Agent Orange for Vietnam Veterans such as Diabetes Type II, and certain cancers or specific disabilities for prisoners of war or participation in radiation-risk activities.
  • SECONDARY – A new condition which is directly and proximately caused by an established service-connected condition. Example would be gunshot wound to knee caused one leg to be an inch shorter than the other. Through the years the back becomes disabled due to the off balance gait.


  • An original claim is submitted on a VA Form 21-526. It is suggested that the veteran contact their county VA office for assistance in the completion of this form. Supporting documentation required for submission is a certified copy of discharge, copy of medical records proving disability, a copy of marriage license, and birth certificates for any minor children.


  • Frequently disabilities will get worse as the veteran ages. An example might be that the site of injury becomes arthritic. When a disability becomes worse, contact your county VA office to request said disability be re-evaluated.

Individual Unemployability

  • Total disability ratings (100%) for compensation may be assigned where the scheduler rating is less than total, when the disabled person is, in the judgment of the rating agency, unable to secure or follow a substantially gainful occupation as a result of service-connected disability. (One disability rated at 60% or higher or a combined rating of 70% with one disability rated at 40% or more.)

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