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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What Conditions Will the VA Cover After 8 Years on Active Duty?

Both the DoD and the VA will only give Military Disability Ratings for conditions that are service-connected. Once a service member has been in the military for 8 years or more, however, all of his genetic or EPTS conditions are automatically considered service-connected, and thus ratable. See our discussion of Service-Connection After 8 Years of Active Duty Service for complete details and exceptions. 

Since DoD Disability is only given once at the time of the service member’s separation from the military, it will be given for every condition he has that makes him Unfit for Duty at that time.

VA Disability, however, can change over time as conditions worsen or improve or as new conditions develop. This presents an interesting challenge when dealing with conditions that alone aren’t service-connected but are considered service-connected because of the length of active duty service. Basically, if a condition develops after a veteran is out of the military, it is eligible for VA Disability as long as it can be proven to be caused by a service-connected condition or, in the case of 8 years or more of active duty service, as long as it develops within the 1st year after separation from the military.

This sounds more complicated than it is, so here’s an example.

Let’s say Jim has cancer and served for 10 years.
  • If it developed while on active duty, it is ratable.
  • If it developed within 1 year of separation from the military, the VA will rate it, but not the DoD      since it has to be present at the time of separation for the DoD to rate it.
  • If it didn’t develop until more than 1 year after separation, then it is only ratable by the VA if it can be proven to have been caused by another service-connected condition or was a direct result of military experiences, like exposure to chemicals while on active duty.
That’s it. A condition that is not strictly service-connected or caused by a service-connected condition can only be considered service-connected for service members with 8 years or more on active duty if it develops within 1 year of separation.

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