The Presumption of Sound Condition is a powerful doctrine when used appropriately. It can force the VA to accept that the Veteran entered military service in sound condition and is only rebuttable by Clear and Unmistakable Evidence – a high threshold to pass.
38 U.S.C. § 1111 states:
For the purposes of section 1110 of this title, every Veteran shall be taken to have been in sound condition when examined, accepted, and enrolled for service, except as to defects, infirmities, or disorders noted at the time of the examination, acceptance and enrollment, or where clear and unmistakable evidence demonstrates that the injury or disease existed before acceptance and enrollment and was not aggravated by such service.
It is important to understand that in order for this presumption to apply, a Veteran must have been examined, accepted, and enrolled for service. For most Veterans, examination, acceptance, and enrollment for service formally took place at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). If there was no examination, there is no presumption. Recently with the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, National Guardsmen and Reservists were called to active duty but not given a formal service entrance examination. In this case, the pre-deployment examination should be used. A Veteran can rely on the presumption if an examination did take place but the VA either cannot find the records or can only find partial records and there is no note of the condition. Continue Reading