Veterans seeking a line of duty claim can find relief in the rules. Really, the statutes applicable to a disability claim do not require being in the line of duty.
In other words, the laws for a line of duty appeal is supposed to encompass a Veteran’s entire military career (both on the job and away from the job).
Luckily, you came to the right place to find out why these types of claims are easier than you think.
Line of Duty Rules
Because I am a lawyer, I like to starting my research process by identifying a rule.
The rule for a line of duty claim is divided into two sections:
Specifically, here is what the rule says:
For disability resulting from personal injury suffered or disease contracted in line of duty, or for aggravation of a preexisting injury suffered or disease contracted in line of duty, in the active military, naval, or air service, during other than a period of war, the United States will pay to any veteran thus disabled and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable from the period of service in which said injury or disease was incurred, or preexisting injury or disease was aggravated, compensation as provided in this subchapter, but no compensation shall be paid if the disability is a result of the veteran’s own willful misconduct or abuse of alcohol or drugs.
For all practical purposes, the benefit differences between a wartime injury and a peacetime injury are small. The major differences are presumptions and evidence.
Line of Duty: Simple Analysis
After I pinpoint the rule, analyzing an injury for a Veteran is much easier.
In general, the rule favors Veterans whether they were hurt while on leave or engaged in military activities.
For example, a veteran who hurt their knee playing pick-up basketball while visiting their friends on leave is usually eligible for benefits as if he or she was hurt in the line of duty. Or, if a Veteran contracts a disease some 40 years after they were discharged and the disease was loosely associated with their military career, this is a compensable claim too.
Again, evidence is the key. If a veteran doesn’t have any evidence, then the process becomes finding or building a record.
Line of Duty: What to Do First?
Here is what I like to see from Veterans pursuing a line of duty claim:
- Acquiring a copy of their DD 214
- Obtaining a diagnosed medical condition, and
- Linking the injury to a Veteran’s military service.
In my experience, most veterans have a suspicion that their injury or illness or disease dates back to their military career. If I am describing you, please consider taking your claim all the way. For those fearful of old age or death, family members can substitute themselves into the claim process when the Veteran cannot continue. Because a line of duty claim is financially worth pursuing, keep going.
For those who have recently lost an appeal, do not give up. One of the main reasons Veterans fail in the appeal process is because their appeal record was poorly developed. In my experience, an evidentiary issue is fixable.
If you need more help, please keep me in mind.