What Is The “At Least As Likely As Not” Standard In VA Disability Law?

Every legal system has its own standard of proof. For criminal law, the standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and in civil lawsuits, the standard may be “clear and convincing evidence” or “the preponderance of evidence.” Each of these standards is more severe than the one used by the VA when it comes to deciding a veteran’s disability claim, which is known as the “at least as likely as not,” standard.

When deciding whether or not to approve a veteran’s claim, the VA will determine if the disability regarded in the claim is “at least as likely as not” related to the veteran’s service. Essentially, the veteran must prove, to at least a 50 percent or more likelihood, that his or her condition was caused or aggravated by his or her military service in order to obtain service connection. 

Veterans do not need to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that their condition entitles them to a certain benefit, they only need to show that the evidence supports at least a 50 percent likelihood that their disability is service connected.

Private Medical Opinions And VA’s Standard Of Proof

When it comes to medical nexus opinions, which show a connection between a veteran’s service and his or her condition, favorable private medical opinions may include the language “at least as likely as not” when the doctor is writing his or her report. In Compensation and Pension (C&P) exams, unfavorable opinions generally start with the doctor writing “it is less likely than not that the veteran’s condition is due to…”, which means that it is 50 percent or less likely that the veteran’s condition is due to their service. By providing a favorable private medical opinion with one’s claim, that evidence can counteract the negative report and possibly lead to a more favorable outcome.

Help With Your VA Disability Claim

If you are looking for assistance with your VA claim, our experienced veterans disability lawyers are ready to help you get the compensation you are entitled to. Please contact our office today for more information and to get your free claim evaluation.