If you are a veteran who has developed Multiple Sclerosis (MS) while still in service, you may not face difficulty with getting the disease service-connected for disability compensation purposes. However, for many veterans, Multiple Sclerosis develops a number of years after their release from the military. Also complicating the situation is that Multiple Sclerosis is an insidious disease that can mimic numerous other conditions for years prior to proper diagnosis further delaying a veteran’s ability to get the condition service-connected.
In this situation, it becomes important to show what symptoms a veteran may have been experiencing as related to MS in a specific time period after release from active duty. For most chronic diseases, there is a one-year presumptive period from date of discharge for considering the condition to be service-connected. However, for MS, the VA allows a seven-year presumptive period within which the disease might develop. Be aware that the VA starts that seven-year clock running based on the veteran’s last period of at least 90 days of continuous active duty.
If you are a veteran with MS who has been diagnosed within that presumptive period OR even later than that seven-year period, you can still take steps to prove your case to the VA. Try to track back to those first seven years after you were discharged from a period of active duty military service (lasting at least 90 continuous days) and provide proof to the VA of what conditions developed during that time and to what extent. Some of the conditions that can be early signs of MS include headaches, fatigue, hypersomnolence (daytime sleepiness), sleep apnea, eye conditions, intermittent blurring of vision, numbness or tingling in parts of your body, muscle weakness, tremors, hoarseness, swallowing difficulty, difficulty with speech, bladder or bowel voiding difficulties and leakage, and many other symptoms.
To help provide proof to the VA of the earlier manifestations of some of these conditions, you can send the VA copies of specific medical records showing medical visits where you were obtaining treatment for these symptoms and conditions that developed or were complained about within that seven-year time period. You can also provide a statement made by you describing and listing the development of the various symptoms you experienced over the years creating a sort of timeline of the symptoms to make it easier for the VA to see the whole picture. Include vivid descriptions of how the symptoms affected your normal functioning in your daily life, activities with family, your employment, etc. You can also ask family members, friends, and past employers to provide “buddy statements” describing the various medical symptoms that you were experiencing that they can recall. These are all ways that you can use to enhance your chances of having MS be granted as a service-connected condition.