Veterans with traumatic brain injury may be eligible for more benefits

LANSING – Veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) who are diagnosed with ailments like Parkinson’s disease, dementia and others may now find it easier to collect disability compensation for those ailments, announced Michigan Veterans Affairs Director Jeff Barnes.

Research linking TBI with conditions like Parkinson’s disease, dementia and depression has prompted the VA to update its rules to recognize those conditions as secondary service-connected conditions for some veterans with TBI. Under the new rules, when a veteran with TBI also has one of these conditions, the VA will also consider the second illness to be service-connected for the purpose of calculating VA disability compensation.

“The number of veterans diagnosed with traumatic brain injury continues to rise, and we are still learning the full effect these injuries can have,” said Barnes. “This rule change will make it easier for veterans living with the consequences of TBI to receive the compensation they deserve.”

Under the new rule, the VA will consider the following to be secondary to service-connected TBI:

·         Parkinsonism, including Parkinson’s disease, following moderate or severe TBI;

·         Unprovoked seizures following moderate or severe TBI;

·         Dementias (presenile dementia of the Alzheimer type, frontotemporal dementia, and dementia with Lewy bodies) if manifest within 15 years following moderate or severe TBI;

·         Depression if manifest within 3 years of moderate or severe TBI, or within 12 months of mild TBI; or

·         Diseases of hormone deficiency that result from hypothalamo-pituitary changes if manifest within 12 months of moderate or severe TBI.

The VA considers a condition to have a secondary service connection when there is an established link between that condition and ailments or injuries a service member suffered as a direct result of their service. Other examples of secondary service-connected conditions include a leg injury that leads to knee problems or diabetes leading to a heart condition.

Veterans who have not filed a disability claim with the VA or whose claim may be impacted by this rule change are encouraged to work with an accredited veterans’ service officer to file or update their claims. Service members who are within 180 days of discharge may also file a pre-discharge claim for TBI. Veterans can connect with an accredited veterans’ service officer by calling 517-284-5298.

The published final rule is available at and goes into effect in 30 days.

The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency serves as the central coordinating point, connecting those who have served in the United States Armed Forces and their families, to services and benefits throughout the state of Michigan.MVAA is committed to improving dialogue between veterans of all eras and every state department and agency that serves veterans. Learn more at