Substance Use Disorders

Veterans cannot be directly service-connected for substance use disorder. They can be service connected on a secondary basis for disabilities that arise from drug use due to a service-connected condition. Veterans can receive ratings for substance-related disabilities as long as the substance use was not the veteran’s own “willful misconduct.” VA defines willful misconduct as “an act involving conscious wrongdoing or known prohibited action.” Generally, it is difficult and challenging to win a claim for substance use disorders.

To establish a secondary service connection, the veteran will need to show that they have a current disability (as determined/diagnosed by a medical professional). The veteran would also need qualified medical evidence to establish that the substance use disorder is secondary to an already service connected condition (ie: PTSD causing alcohol abuse). Finally, the veteran would have to demonstrate that the condition meets the regulatory requirements for compensation. While not impossible, such claims are challenging. For this reason you need to use an attorney well versed in establishing service connected issues and secondary claims.

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