Presumptive military service connection for multiple sclerosis (MS) must take into account how and when MS first manifested to a degree of 10 percent or more within a seven-year period from date of separation from service.
It’s important to know that even if you’ve been separated from service for more than seven years when your MS was first diagnosed, you could still be considered eligible for service connection entitlement benefits. The main reason for this is that it can take time for MS to be properly diagnosed.
Your first step should be to have a qualified neurologist review your past and current medical records for the seven years following separation from service and provide a medical opinion that the symptoms you experienced were most likely due to MS, although it had not been diagnosed yet.
Once VA awards service-connection for MS, you may be eligible for additional benefits based on your MS. Your initial basic rating for this disease is 30 percent, without secondary disabilities caused by your MS. Secondary disabilities will be rated separately, however, and may result in a higher combined rating that leads to an increase in compensation.
Since MS is a progressive disease, it‘s important that you keep all results of medical evaluations readily available. For instance, you should obtain medical documents that relate to loss of use of one or more extremities, blindness, and bowel or bladder dysfunction. You may not only be entitled to higher compensation, but ancillary benefits such as vehicle or home accessibility improvements that help you adapt to everyday life.
You can start by filing an initial claim for service-connection benefits via your VetsFirst representative by completing a VA Form 21-22––Appointment of Veterans Service Organization as Claimant’s Representative––so you may be legally represented, as well as a VA From 21-526––Application for Compensation and or Pension. You should also provide a copy of DD 214, your military discharge form to properly note you as a veteran.
During the review process, the VA will ascertain the severity of your illness by scheduling a Compensation & Pension Examination at a VA medical center to obtain sufficient medical evidence regarding your current disability in relationship to your military service and/or the medical treatment you may have received during that seven-year presumptive period.
There is a lot of help and benefits available to you as a veteran with service- connected MS to ensure you receive the best care and representation. By keeping a journal regarding the severity and progress of your disability and health care needs, you will be able assist the VA as well as your representative meet your needs.
National Service Officer