In VA disability compensation, a nexus statement is a crucial element that connects a veteran's current medical condition to their time in service or another service connected condition. The language used in these statements can significantly impact the outcome of a disability claim. One critical distinction is the difference between "at least as likely" and "more likely." In this blog post, we'll explore what these terms mean and why they matter.
"At least as likely" is a lower burden of proof than "more likely." This level of certainty is often described as a "reasonable degree of medical certainty." Essentially, the nexus statement is saying that it is just as likely as not that the condition is service-connected or a 50/50 chance.
On the other hand, "more likely than not" means that there is a greater than 50% probability that the veteran's current condition is related to their time in service or service connected condition. This is a higher standard of proof than "at least as likely."
The difference between these two phrases may seem small, but it can have significant impact in disability claims. The provider writing your nexus letter must maintain objectivity and ensure the opinion statement is evidence based and can be supported by the rationale. Use of the wrong statement can cause the provider and letter be classified as unreliable or less credible. Often providers who write nexus letters are empathetic to the veteran's situation and it is very easy to consider this in the decision on which phrase to use. However, using the "more likely" statement without evidence backing it up is more harmful than helpful from all of the denials we have reviewed for clients.
There is a common misconception that if a veteran's nexus statement states that their condition is "at least as likely" related to their service, it may not be enough to receive disability compensation. Similarly, if the nexus statement states that the condition is "more likely than not" related to their service, it could result in a successful disability claim. This is simply not true. I have yet to see a denial rationale based on this statement.
In summary, the difference between "at least as likely" and "more likely than not" may seem subtle, but it can have significant consequences in disability claims. A veteran's nexus statement is a crucial element of their claim, and it's essential to unders
tand the language used in these statements. Working with an organization who understands when and how to use these phrases is an important element for success with your VA disability claims.
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