Field Background

Attorneys Devoted to Veterans Benefits

Submit the short form below for a free case evaluation

I am not a robot

5 New Illnesses Linked to Traumatic Brain Injuries

Effective January 16, 2014, VA has amended 38 C.F.R. § 3.310 to add five illnesses found to secondarily related to traumatic brain injuries.  A report by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, entitled “Gulf War and Health, Volume 7: Long-Term Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury,” found sufficient evidence to link the moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries with the following five illnesses:

  1. Parkinsonism, including Parkinson’s disease, following moderate or severe traumatic brain injury
  2. Unprovoked seizures, following moderate or severe traumatic brain injury
  3. Dementias of the following types: presenile dementia of the Alzheimer type, frontotemporal dementia, and dementia with Lewy bodies, if manifest within 15 years following moderate or severe traumatic brain injury
  4. Depression, if manifest within 3 years of moderate or severe traumatic brain injury, or within 12 months of mild traumatic brain injury
  5. Disease of hormone deficiency that results from hypothalamo-pituitary changes, if manifest within 12 months of moderate or severe traumatic brain injury.

 What does this mean for veterans who have service connected traumatic brain injuries?

Veterans who have already been granted entitlement to service connection for a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury, have been diagnosed with one of the five conditions noted above and fall within the guidelines provided, may file claims requesting entitlement to service connection for these conditions.  Absent clear evidence to the contrary, VA must grant entitlement to service connection for these five conditions, if the veteran falls within the guidelines noted above.  The benefit to veterans is an elimination of the need for case-specific development, such as not  having to obtain additional medical evidence linking the conditions to the veteran’s service connected moderate or severe traumatic brain injury.

Veterans with pending claims requesting entitlement to service connection for moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries can also file claims for the above noted conditions; however, the rule only provides for service connection of these conditions if the veteran has been granted entitlement to service connection for moderate or severe traumatic brain injuries.

Veterans who have been diagnosed with one of the five conditions noted above and have obtained service connection or are seeking service connection for a traumatic brain injury, but do not fall within the guidelines established by the rule, may still request entitlement to service connection for these conditions.  The final rule specifically states that “any claim that is not within the scope of this rule will be developed and decided under generally applicable procedures based on the evidence relating to that claim.”  Thus, veterans will likely need medical evidence specifically linking the condition to their service connected traumatic brain injury.

To see the final rule in its entirety, as well as commentary, please click on the link below :

https://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=VA-2012-VBA-0029-0212

to the top