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VA Disability Claim Update

Pain can be a disability, according to a recent case decided by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In order to receive VA Disability Compensation, the Veteran must establish three things:

  1. A present disability.
  2. In-service incurrence of a disease or injury.
  3. Connection between the in-service disease or injury and the current disability.

For some time now, the VA has turned down VA Disability claims because of a 1999 case that, in short, states pain by itself is not a disability. The Saunders case decided earlier this month, upends that previous logic. Before the Saunders case, there had to have been an underlying, diagnosed disability. The Government’s argument was that the disability had to cause some sort of functional impairment. The Court of Appeals ultimately rejected this argument. Finding for the Claimant, the court found that pain by itself may be a functional impairment.

As anyone who has experienced chronic headaches, patellofemoral pain syndrome, tendinitis, or other chronic pain knows, they can be debilitating and impair one’s ability to do their job. It’s good that the Courts finally recognized this as well.

It’s not clear how this will shake out in the months and years to come, but we think it opens the door to claims that have been wrongly denied. Primarily, we believe the Veteran will still have to show how the pain has impacted their ability to work.

If you have been denied VA Disability Compensation because of “pain alone is not a disability,” as cited in the Sanchez-Benites case, you should contact a VA Disability Attorney.

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