In-Service Injury, Event or Condition

Understanding the “At Least as Likely as Not” Standard…

If you follow criminal cases or perhaps TV Law shows, you might have heard the term “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  “Beyond a reasonable doubt” is a very high bar to meet and it means there’s no other logical explanation for what happened.


The VA uses a similar and simpler standard term called “at least as likely as not.” The best way to think of this term is like a balance scale. If the evidence on the “scale” tips even slightly in the veteran’s favor – i.e. 51% … that’s enough. It means there’s a 50% or more chance the evidence supports the Veteran’s claim. The opposite is ‘less likely as not‘ – meaning ‘less likely’ or ‘unlikely’ – there’s less than 50% likelihood.


So, when veterans claim a disability because of something that happened during their service, they do not have to prove it beyond all doubt. They just need to show that it’s more likely than not that their disability is linked to their time in service.

Service Connection Key Takeaways…

The VA marketing department makes it sound like applying for VA benefits is like a walk in the park. But if you’re a veteran suspecting or already having a service-related disability, you’ll soon find out that the VA process can be more like walking in mud. 

So to summarize and to make things smoother – here are the key takeaways.


      1. Evidence is KING: Strong, evidence-backed applications significantly increase success rates.
      2. Your Role and the VA’s: The VA does offer assistance, but often, it’s the veterans who have to lead the charge for their rights.
      3. Prioritize the Basics: The first step? Secure solid evidence for your claim. Only then, consider wider outreach or more aggressive advocacy.
      4. We’re Your VA Insider Resource:  CaseSix and this guide are here to break down and simplify the VA claims process, ensuring you have the information you need.
      5. Staying in the Loop: VA regulations, including 38 CFR and M-21, change over time. We keep up with these changes to stay ahead.

We’re on your side, offering advice and insights. Let’s work together and navigate the VA maze effectively.

Pro Tips:

    • – Combine both lay and medical evidence for a robust claim.

    • – File an Intent to File (VA Form 21-0966) to reserve the effective date and use the next 12 months to gather evidence.

    • – Secure medical evidence for your present disability and share your history with your doctor. If possible, request a written opinion linking your disability to its service-related cause.

Got VA Benefit Questions?

If the VA denied your claim; contact us. We can offer a free review and consultation. We’ll make sure the VA follows all protocols and that your evidence is correct and comprehensive. 



In-Service Injury, Event or Medical Condition

To qualify for disability benefits, a veteran must demonstrate that their present disability was precipitated, exacerbated, or in some way linked to an in-service disease, injury, or event. The VA employs the “at least as likely as not” criterion, implying that there’s a probable connection between the in-service incident and the current disability.


Essential Proof for an In-Service Incident:

      1. A statement from a veteran is sometimes not enough. The VA will compare the veteran’s statement against other evidence, like Service Treatment Records (STR).
      2. Begin with a detailed account —covering the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
      3. Remember, the benchmark is “at least as likely as not” … (Greater than 51% likelihood in favor of the Vet). Utilize evidence to establish a connection between the service event and the current condition.

Pro Tip: Narrate your case using evidence. A thorough account from the veteran, complemented by additional evidence, strengthens the argument.

Evidence Variability by Condition – Examples:

    • – Arthritis due to an in-service hip injury requires evidence of the hip incident.
    • – Lung cancer from asbestos exposure necessitates evidence of contact with asbestos during service.
    • – PTSD claims demand evidence of a traumatic in-service event.

Additional Evidence Sources:

    • – Buddy statements with photos (if possible) or accounts from fellow service members.
    • – Consider writing your own statement in support of your claim.
    • – Ship’s deck or Flight logs.
    • – Safety reports or incident investigations.
    • – Unit histories.
    • – News pieces about a significant incident.
    • – Personal correspondence during or after the incident.
    • – Creative documentation or presentation with photos can be instrumental.

Exceptions to Evidence Rules:

      1. Combat Exception: This exception is substantial. If the injury or disease is combat-related, the VA typically accepts the veteran’s account. The statute that governs this is 38 U.S.C. 1154(b). It emphasizes the acceptance of evidence from combat veterans even if official records don’t support it.
      2. Presumed Incidents: If you are diagnosed with arthritis, diabetes or hypertension within one (1) year of active-duty release, you should apply for disability compensation. The most recognized presumed incident is exposure to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam.


      1. Be proactive in collecting evidence regarding in-service incidents.
      2. Think outside the box—your evidence isn’t restricted to official records.

Remember, every piece of evidence helps in building a robust case. If you’re not sure don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. 

CaseSix can help. Call (410) 803-5049 for a free evaluation or use our contact or Free Evaluation form.

Simple VA Combined Disability Calculator

Our calculator is intended to give you a close estimate of your monthly compensation. 

Enter your number of Rated Disabilities; Your Percentage per Condition; Marital, Children and Parent status and Aid and Attendance (AA).  Our VA disability calculator determines your estimated monthly combined disability rating compensation.

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