While you were in service, you tweaked your left knee. You only went to the doctor a few times to get it checked out while you were in service. You are not the type of person who complains a lot. You told your buddies when your knee hurt and also complained to your spouse every now and then about it.
You have now been out for five years. Your knee has started hurting more often. You eventually see an orthopedist and he recommended surgery for your left knee. You heard some of your old buddies talk about how they are getting compensated for their service-connected impairments. You decided to apply for benefits because it was obvious that your condition was connected. You applied.
A few months later you received a Rating Decision that denied your claim. The VA examiner thought paucity of medical records from when you were in service did not show a connection to your current knee condition. You were in disbelief, and angry.
What can you do to make sure this decision is corrected? What are you options?
To begin with, you have to realize there is a one-year deadline if a veteran wants to appeal a Rating Decision. To appeal, the veteran files a Notice of Disagreement with the Regional Office that sent the Rating Decision. The Notice of Disagreement just has to let the VA know you disagree with their Decision. There are not many formalities for a Notice of Disagreement.
If you have not already done so, you should also ask the VA for a copy of your file. This contains all the evidence the VA used in deciding your claim. You should get all of your current medical records and also ask if your current orthopedist will look over your service medical records and opine as to whether your complaints from years ago are as likely as not to be the cause of your current problems.
You will eventually get a chance to tell the VA your side of the story. It is never too early to start preparing.