Case Studies

Case Study 1

Depression Secondary to Chronic Pain

This veteran suffered from major depression that he claimed was due to witnessing traumatic events during active duty. However, none of the traumatic events that he described were corroborated in the military records. He did not serve in a combat theater and was not otherwise able to prove he witnessed those traumatic events.

However, he was in a motor vehicle accident during service and suffered a neck and back injury for which he later obtained a disability rating and service connection. He got a VA nexus letter from a medical expert who was able to show that his chronic pain was a result of the service connected problems - and the chronic pain was causing his depression.

This particular case is common. The non-physician veteran was unable to determine where his depression had come from and mistakenly thought it was due to traumatic events during service. It was actually coming from his chronic pain associated with the service connected neck and back injury.

Result: Successful secondary service connection for depression and retroactive pay.
Case Study 2

Depression Secondary to Hepatitis C

This veteran was service connected for hepatitis C and claimed that his hepatitis C was causing severe depression. The VA denied his claim, arguing that his hepatitis C had been successfully treated and was not causing any significant medical problems.

However, the veteran told medical experts that he had a great fear of infecting his wife and grandchildren. He sequestered himself away from all friends and family to prevent spreading the virus to his loved ones. As a result of this self-imposed isolation, he developed severe depression.

He obtained a medical nexus letter from a medical expert who specializes in VA cases and was able to establish that his depression was a result of his hepatitis C infection.

Result: Successful secondary service connection for depression.
Case Study 3

Service Connection for Cause of Death

This veteran served onboard a submarine. He started to develop weight issues during service and was placed in the weight control program. He also started developing elevated cholesterol levels during service. Within five years after service, he was significantly overweight and type 2 diabetes. At age 42, less than 10 years after service, he suffered a fatal heart attack.

His wife claimed service connection for the cause of death. The VA initially denied the claim on the grounds that he had no cardiovascular problems during service. She obtained a medical expert to write a nexus letter, who was able to show that her husband's weight gain during service (on record due to his placement in the weight control program) caused his diabetes which led to heart disease.

Result: Service connection for the cause of death granted.

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