Case Spotlight – February 2022

In 2019, a Navy Veteran came to Disability Law Group after he was denied service connection for 5 years. He was claiming service connection from the VA for injuries he sustained in a motor vehicle accident that he was involved in while serving in the Navy. His conditions ranged from degenerative arthritis of his neck and back, radiculopathy of his arms, depression, and obstructive sleep apnea. This accident changed his life and caused him serious pain and difficulty functioning day-to-day. Unfortunately, the Veteran was even unable to work because of his injuries. Attorney Bridget Drop took on the case and knew right away that a clear medical opinion and supportive medical literature would be essential to proving service connection and helping this veteran win his case and the compensation he deserved. 

In order to prove a condition is service-connected a veteran must prove the existence of a current disability, in-service incurrence or aggravation of a disease or injury, and causal relationship between the present disability and the in-service event, also known as the “nexus”. There are, however, different theories of service connection. “Secondary” service connection occurs when a service-connected disability causes or aggravates another condition or illness. 

In this case, the team at Disability Law Group worked together to review the file, obtain all medical evidence needed, the Veteran’s entire file, including his personnel records, and even additional letters in support. Attorney Bridget Drop got to work in assisting the Veteran with a detailed medical opinion, supported by medical literature, that helped make it clear that the Veteran’s current conditions were either caused by, or secondary to, his in-service accident. 

Attorney Drop provided the Board of Veterans’ Appeals with the updated evidence, critical testimony from the Veteran, and her argument that a high-impact accident can cause degenerative arthritis, resulting in many of the conditions her client suffers from today. Medical literature was also supplied that supports that obesity is a leading risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea, and because of the Veteran’s physical conditions that were caused by the motor vehicle accident in service, he was unable to exercise leading to his excessive weight gain. Here, the theory was that his obesity was caused by his back condition which was a direct result of his accident in service. 

A Board of Veterans’ Appeals Decision from December 2021 determined that the Veteran’s back and neck degenerative arthritis and depression was caused by the motor vehicle accident in service and that his obstructive sleep apnea was indeed secondary to his back and neck conditions. We were successful in proving service connection for our client for his claims, resulting in a large lump sum of back-pay and monthly compensation for our client. The attorneys at Disability Law Group understand that Veterans rely on VA disability benefits when their service-connected disabilities prevent them from working and use their knowledge of disability benefits to get their clients all of the benefits they are entitled to. Our consultations are always free, and disability is all we do.