There are three elements that Veterans need to meet before they can ask the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for a medical opinion or evaluation – and a service event is the second out of the list. Below, we detail what a service event actually means and also how you can prove it when filing your claim for VA disability benefits.
Keep reading as we break it down in simpler terms:
Element 2: Service event 38 CFR 3.159(c)(4)(i)(B)
A service event is basically what it sounds like: something that occurred during service. Veterans should be able to provide evidence of a service event that either caused or contributed to their current condition. The VA describes this as "Establishment of one of the following in service: 1) An event, 2) An injury, 3) A disease."
How can you prove a service event for VA disability benefits?
There are two ways you can prove a service event for VA disability benefits: medical documentation and administrative documentation. Here's the difference:
Medical documentation: This type of documentation comes from medical visits during service, such as going to a clinic or the hospital.
Administrative documentation: Unlike medical, administrative documentation occurs without a medical visit – it is documented in-service administratively. This can be recorded on an incident report, performance evaluation, pictures of you performing your job duty, orders, a conop, etc.
But what happens if you were injured in the field with a medic who didn't document? This is where personal statements come in – self-written explanations that provide understanding of your condition, health history, how you manage symptoms, and ways the condition affects your life.
You can also get a buddy letter, which is a statement made on your behalf by someone else who has firsthand knowledge of the service incident, which can qualify it as a service event. The most important thing is to get a buddy letter from someone who was there and witnessed the event, injury, or disease first-hand. They can also be a supervisor who can attest to the negative impact it had on your ability to function at work or any work accommodations/limitations.
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