Existed Prior to Service (EPTS)
“Existed Prior To Service” (EPTS) refers to medical conditions that were diagnosed or sustained before the service member joined the military. EPTS conditions can include injuries from childhood, conditions diagnosed before service, and genetic or hereditary conditions.
Both the DoD and the VA will not give Military Disability Benefits for an EPTS condition unless it is service-aggravated or the service member was on active duty for 8 years or more. To deny benefits, however, they must be able to absolutely prove that a condition is EPTS. All conditions are automatically assumed not EPTS unless they can be proven otherwise.
For example, all conditions must be clearly recorded when the service member enters active duty for them to be considered EPTS, unless they are genetic or hereditary. If no conditions are recorded when the service member enters active duty, the military will assume that he was in perfect physical and mental condition at that time.
EPTS Conditions That Are Service-Aggravated
A Military Disability Rating is only given to an EPTS condition if it worsened during the veteran’s time in the military beyond what would be medically assumed as the normal progression of the condition. This is referred to as “service-aggravated.” Basically, the condition is worse or occurred earlier in the military than it would have at a desk job.
For example, if a service member broke his arm when he was six, obviously EPTS, he will not be compensated for that arm condition unless he re-injured or seriously aggravated it while in the military. As long as medical records clearly demonstrate that the condition worsened because of the military, the VA will rate the EPTS condition. The DoD, however, will still only rate the EPTS condition if it worsened enough to make the service member Unfit for Duty.
Genetic or Hereditary Conditions
Many genetic or hereditary conditions do not develop until later in life, so these conditions could easily have not existed at the time of enlistment, but could show up during service. Although these conditions are officially considered EPTS, they are also automatically assumed to be service-aggravated, and thus ratable, unless it can be proven that they would have developed at the same time and to the same degree under any circumstances. So, if a service member develops a condition and it can be proven that he would have gotten it at the same time and to the same degree no matter what, then that condition is not ratable.