If you've applied for disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), you're likely waiting for a decision letter to arrive in the mail. This letter will provide important information about the decision regarding your disability claim, including whether or not you've been awarded benefits. One term you may see in the letter is "favorable findings." In this blog post, we'll explore what favorable findings mean in your VA decision letter.
"Favorable findings" refer to evidence that supports your condition or something that meets criteria in the 38CFR. However, it's important to note that even if the VA has found favorable findings in your case, it doesn't necessarily mean that you will be awarded disability benefits. The VA must also determine that your disability is related to your military service and that it is disabling enough to warrant a disability rating.
If the VA has found favorable findings in your case, it can be a positive sign that your claim is on the right track. It means that the VA has reviewed your evidence and found it to be credible and relevant to your claim. It's important to note that favorable findings can come at any stage of the claims process, whether it's during the initial review or during an appeal.
If you've received a VA decision letter that includes "favorable findings," it's important to review the letter carefully to understand what the decision means for your disability claim. If you've been awarded disability benefits, the letter will provide information on the amount of compensation you'll receive and how often you'll receive it. If you've been denied benefits, the letter will explain the reasons for the denial and provide information on how to appeal the decision.
Below is an example of 5 common "favorable findings" and what each one means.
Finding #1: The claimed primary disabilities are service-connected. It means that the VA acknowledges you are filing a claim secondary to a condition and that condition is service connected. A common pitfall that I see Veterans doing is putting the horse before the cart so to speak. They will file something like migraine headaches secondary to tinnitus but the tinnitus is not yet service connected. The first step is getting the primary condition service connected then you can focus on filing your secondary claims.
Finding #2: You have been diagnosed with a disability. They are just acknowledging that you have a formal diagnosis for the condition you are claiming. Surprisingly there are many times when the VA does not acknowledge your diagnosis. This is usually when the medical work up is not yet complete. For example you are pending a specialist appointment or lab test/study before a formal and specific diagnosis is made.
Finding #3: You have sufficient service to meet the minimum requirements for presumptive service connection. This means that you served in a qualifying theater and during a qualified period of time in that presumptive category. It does not really help the service connection piece. This could go wrong if a Veteran tries to file for a presumptive condition say for Gulf War but was never stationed anywhere outside of the United States.
Finding #4: The claimed disability is a chronic disease which may be presumptively linked to your military service. This is a tricky one. When you see this and a denial for service connection it causes a lot of confusion among our Veterans. It is acknowledgement that you have a chronic condition, that it is on a presumptive list, but there is still a missing factor for service connection. It can be that your treatment records suggest the cause of the condition to be due to a non-service related issue or something else. What it does do is help you understand that for some reason (usually found in the narrative above this section in the denial letter), the VA cannot prove service connection. It is always important to remember that just because a condition can be linked to service, doesn't mean that this is the case for every Veteran. Claims are reviewed on a case by case basis for this reason. This gives you a direction to go if you are looking to add additional supportive evidence to your claim for a supplemental claim or preparing to argue your case in a higher level review.
Finding #5: Your claimed issue became manifest to a degree of 10 percent or more following service. Some conditions have a rating criteria that the condition must meet a certain level of disability before it is qualified as service connected even if all other criteria is met. Specifically, it is common for this to be a requirement in service or within a year of leaving service for some conditions. In this example, if your condition only met the 0% rating criteria per the 38cfr and had this stipulation as part of the regulation, then you would receive a denial letter.
In conclusion, "favorable findings" in your VA decision letter mean that the VA has reviewed your evidence and found something in support of your claim. While this is a positive sign, it doesn't guarantee that you'll be awarded benefits. It's essential to review your decision letter carefully and seek the help of your VSO, private claims representative, or research the 38cfr for the answers in your particular claim.
If you are interested in becoming your own claims expert check out our educational webinar talking about how to simplify your VA disability claims and consider signing up for our course "Master Service Connection: A Course To Maximize Your VA Disability Rating FAST!". Click here to sign up for the free 60 minute webinar.