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By Debbie Gregory.

There are numerous types of claims that apply to VA disability compensation. They can be based on disabilities that existed when entering military service, but were made worse, disabilities that occurred during service, or disabilities that arose following military service. Additionally, there are claims that are filed for special circumstances.

Secondary claims under VA regulation 3.310 are claims for disabilities that developed as a result of or were worsened by another service-connected condition. In other words, it is recognized that a service-connected disability may cause a second disability. This second disability may not otherwise be considered service-connected.

One example of this type of claim would be a veteran who was diagnosed with hypertension while serving. After discharge, the veteran was subsequently diagnosed with a heart condition. Service-connection for the heart condition may be established as secondary to the hypertension.

Another example would be a veteran with a service-connected knee injury that causes the veteran to walk with a limp. The veteran subsequently develops arthritis in the hip. Although the arthritic condition was not incurred during or aggravated by service, service-connection may still be established due to the knee condition.

Ten conditions account for more than half of all secondary to service-connected disabilities.

The top 10 secondary disabilities, beginning with the highest occurrence are:

1. Sciatic nerve damage

2. Erectile dysfunction

3. Median nerve damage (paralysis)

4. External popliteal nerve damage

5. Arteriosclerotic heart disease

6. Arteriosclerosis obliterans

7. Hypertensive vascular disease

8. Renal involvement in systemic diseases

9. Sciatic nerve (neuritis)
10. Degenerative arthritis of the spine

The process of assigning ratings in secondary claims is the same as in claims involving multiple individually service-connected conditions. Each condition is first evaluated separately and assigned a percentage rating. Starting with the condition with the highest percentage rating, the rater then uses VA’s combined ratings table to calculate an overall percentage rating for the primary condition and all conditions found to be proximately due to the primary condition.

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