If you have had a disability since your time in service and believe that it is related to your service, then it is important in your VA claim to get that disability service-connected. This is because there are several different benefits and options for treatment for the specific disability, which may not be available without the service connection. In order to get your disability service-connected, the VA must determine that your injury or illness was incurred or aggravated during active military service. Once the VA makes this determination, you are able to receive several benefits which would not have been available before.
The most common benefit obtained by service connection is disability compensation. This is a monetary award in which you will be compensated a specific dollar amount based on several factors, including the severity of your disability, special compensation, and any persons you may claim as dependents. This compensation can also be awarded on a monthly basis and retroactively applied as far back as to the date you first made your claim for your service-connected disability. Also, the compensation for your disability is not subject to any state or federal income taxes.
In addition to monetary compensation, once a disability is service-connected, you are entitled to treatment at the VA Hospital for the specific condition at no additional cost. This is important because this can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars in medical bills which you may have been responsible for out of your pocket. You may also be able to apply for life insurance through the Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance Program (within two years of the grant of service connection).
For some disabilities, compensation is not always available if the disability is rated at 0%, considered non-compensable (see here for information on ratings). However it is still very important and beneficial to you to establish the disability as service-connected because there are several other benefits other than monetary remuneration you may be entitled to (described above). Further, if you have multiple (two or more) non-compensable service-connected disabilities, the VA is authorized to assign you a 10% disability rating if the disabilities clearly interfere with your normal employability.
Once your disability has been established as service-connected, then you have cleared one major hurdle in your fight to earn the benefits you deserve. If the VA does grant a rating of non-compensable 0% for your disability that will not properly compensate you, then you are still able to appeal the rating decision and effective date while receiving the above mentioned benefits of having a your disability service-connected. Finally if your disability does worsen after it is ruled as service-connected, you have the right to seek an increased rating, which means you are entitled to the compensation you deserve. While there are several benefits you are able to receive if your disability is not service-connected, establishing service connection is the best path towards obtaining the benefits owed to you as a veteran who so faithfully served our county. Thank you very much for your service.