What Is A Presumptive Service Connection
To be eligible for VA disability, your condition needs to be related to your service. The VA assumes that certain disabilities and illnesses are indeed caused by military service. If they find that a condition is common amongst members of veteran groups, theyll add that condition to the presumptives list. Anyone who develops that condition will be given disability compensation.
Diseases on the presumptives list can be chronic, such as:
If you develop a chronic condition within a year of your release from duty, you should apply for VA disability benefits.
To qualify for presumptive benefits, you must meet certain requirements. Examples include the following:
- You were a prisoner of war and your condition is 10% debilitating
- You were exposed to Agent Orange
- You served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975
- You were exposed to ionizing radiation during nuclear testing
- You were a POW in Japan
- You served at a radiation diffusion plant before February 1, 1992
- You are a Gulf War vet and have developed a debilitating condition by December 31, 2021
- You served in the Southwest Asia Theater of Operations
So Why Not Bladder Cancer
By Summer 2018 M-VETS Student-Advisor Keith Bishop
16,000 Americans are expected to die of bladder cancer every year. Bladder cancer patients pass blood in their urine, suffer painful urination, and may suffer other symptoms such as back pain. Surgeries of various types are the most common treatment, including Transurethral Resection, in which a physician inserts a tube into the bladder and burns away the cancer with an electric current. Its not clear how many Vietnam veterans have suffered from bladder cancer.
Vietnam veterans as a whole have been suffering from a pretty reliable host of conditions for decades. Because of this, Congress has made it easier for Vietnam veterans, whether soldier, sailor*, airman, or marine, to be approved for veterans disability compensation for many of these conditions. But despite all of these numbers of veterans with bladder cancer, neither Congress nor the Department of Veterans Affairs has added bladder cancer to that list that relaxes the burden of proof that veterans must meet to be awarded compensation.
Lets unpack this a bit. Lets look at the raw numbers, and the science and statistics behind this distinction between bladder cancer and other conditions closely associated with having served in Vietnam. Does it make sense for bladder cancer to be excluded, when so many conditions get special treatment?
BACKGROUND: Relative Risk
BASIC VETERANS DISABILITY LAW
THE Presumptive CONDITIONS
Cck Can Help Veterans Affected By The Ndaa Presumption Expansion
If you are a Vietnam-era veteran suffering from one of the newly determined presumptive conditions , the veterans disability team at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD may be able to assist you. Whether you are filing an initial claim, appealing a denial of benefits, or seeking an earlier effective date, an accredited attorney from CCK may be able to guide you through the process. For more information, as well as a complimentary case review, contact us online or at 800-544-9144.
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Filing A Va Disability Benefits Claim For Bladder Cancer
While the recent VA decision on Agent Orange exposure connected to bladder cancer is good news for most Veterans, its still wise to know how to file an effective VA disability claim for the condition.
To file a claim for bladder cancer, a Veteran has to submit a legitimate diagnosis of bladder cancer. The diagnosis can come from any licensed medical professional who is qualified to diagnose this condition.
However, its also a good idea to provide records or evidence that shows the Veteran was exposed to Agent Orange during their active duty. Veterans who served in the below areas and in the below time frames may qualify for a presumptive service connection.
- Veterans who served in Vietnam with boots on the ground status, Navy Veterans who operated on a ship in the inland waterways in Vietnam, or Navy Veterans who served aboard a ship in the territorial seas of Vietnam between the dates of January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975.
- Veterans who served on or around the Korean Demilitarized Zone between the dates of September 1, 1967, and August 31, 1971.
- Active duty and/or reservist personnel who regularly served on or around C-123 aircraft between 1969 and 1986.
To file your claim, you must submit VA Form 21-526EZ. This form will include a section where a Veteran can list Agent Orange as the chemical they were exposed to during their active service.
Veteran Compensation And Pension Exams Continue In The Midst Of Rising Coronavirus Cases
Coronavirus cases are rising dramatically nationwide, but VA officials are still attempting to resume Compensation and Pension exams in order to decrease a backlog of about 200,000 disability claims.
Veterans are now faced with the difficult decision of whether or not to put their health at risk for in-person exams in order to avoid further delays in obtaining VA disability payments.
Compensation and pension exams had been postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic this springsome being replaced with telehealth options and paperwork alternativesbut nearly 60 percent of the regular exam inventory remained unfinished.
Read more at Military Times.
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Va Ratings For Bladder Cancer From Agent Orange Exposure
According to the VAs rating system, bladder cancer is rated with Diagnostic Code 7528, known as malignant neoplasms of the genitourinary system.
According to this Diagnostic Code, any Veteran with bladder cancer will receive an automatic 100% disability rating for six months following the end of the surgery, antineoplastic chemotherapy, or any other therapeutic procedure.
Following the six-month timeframe, the VA must then schedule a follow-up Compensation and Pension examination. This will determine how severe the bladder cancer is, whether the therapies worked and whether the Veterans disability rating should decrease.
So long as a Veterans bladder cancer is still active or the Veteran is still undergoing treatment for the bladder cancer, they will continue to receive a 100% disability rating.
Six months after treatments are over or if the cancer is no longer active, the Veteran will see their disability rating fall below 100%.
At this point, the VA rates bladder cancer depending on the remaining symptoms or residuals. Veterans can still acquire disability benefits for bladder cancer residuals like:
Peters Urges Trump Administration To Lift Benefits Freeze For Vietnam Veterans Exposed To Agent Orange
WASHINGTON, DC U.S. Senator Gary Peters is pressing the Trump Administration to reverse their decision to delay and deny healthcare and benefits for veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. In a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie and Office of Budget and Management Director Mick Mulvaney, Peters stressed that a new law passed by Congress and a federal court decision granted VA authority to provide benefits for additional Vietnam veterans. He also mentioned a Freedom of Information Act request that found OMB blocked the VA from adding more diseases connected to Agent Orange exposure, such as hypothyroidism, bladder cancer, hypertension, and Parkinsonism, to the list of presumptive illnesses eligible for coverage. The Administrations stalling impacts more than 80,000 Vietnam veterans who are suffering from these health conditions.
I am writing to express concern with the Trump Administrations apparent refusal to take appropriate measures to immediately support veterans who are suffering from illnesses associated with Agent Orange exposure, wrote Peters, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. …Your inaction places you squarely between tens of thousands of veterans and life-saving treatment and benefits…Stonewalling veterans like this is completely unfair. Vietnam veterans are aging…This matter demands urgency.
Text of the letter is copied below and available here:
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House Committee On Veterans’ Affairs Pushes Measures To Boost Representation Of Women And Minority Vets At Va
On Thursday, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs pushed to “enact measures that would boost the representation of women and minority veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs.” VA supported bills to create a new Tribal Advisory Committee at the agency and add LGBT veterans to its Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans and supported legislation preventing VA from collecting copayments from tribal veterans.
But VA officials once again argued with lawmakers about a proposal to change the VA motto to make it gender neutral and inclusive. Since 1959, the motto has been a quote from former President Abraham Lincoln: To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan. Calls to make the motto gender neutral started two years ago.
Other bills discussed Thursday would boost maternity care at VA and allow for more access to birth control prescriptions.
Read full article at Stars & Stripes.
Supreme Court Hears Arguments On Veteran Benefits
The Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case involving the status of veterans’ benefits.
” Kevin George suffered from mental health problems that he said were worsened by his service in the military. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs denied him benefits using regulation that, decades later, was later found to be wrong. George had filed suit, but a lower court found that because he could not specifically pinpoint the rule as the reason he was denied benefits, he could not reopen his claim. George is asking the Supreme Court to find that his benefits have been improperly withheld.”
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What Is A Presumptive Disability For Agent Orange Exposure
A presumptive disability for Agent Orange exposure is one that the VA presumes to be service-connected, even if theres no specific Nexus for service connection.
Presumptive disability for Agent Orange works like this: If you served at X location during the qualifying period and developed Y condition as a result, then X + Y = automatic service connection.
Instead of having to prove a service connected disability, you only need show with your DD 214 that you were deployed to an eligible location for Agent Orange Exposure during a specific period, andthat you developed a qualifying condition as a result.
We also recommend you write and submit a strong personal Statement in Support of a Claim.
Buddy letters, written by a first-hand witness, can be helpful to fill-in gaps in your service treatment records and military personnel records.
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New Automated System Being Tested By Va Could Accelerate Claims Decisions
Facing a backlog of more than 260,000 disability applications, officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs are testing a new automated system that could help render decisions on disability claims in a fraction of the time it currently takes for decisions to be made.
“The automated system being considered by the VA has proven to shorten the disability claims review process from 100 days to two under certain circumstances and conditions, according to the agency.”
Read more at Military.com.
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Researchers Believe Sarin Nerve Gas Is Cause Of Gulf War Illness
Dr. Robert Haley, director of the Division of Epidemiology in the Internal Medicine Department at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, says recent research shows sarin nerve gas is the cause of Gulf War Illness. His study, published last week in the journal Environment Health Perspectives “used genetic research and survey data to determine that U.S. service members exposed to sarin were more likely to develop Gulf War Illness, and those who were exposed and had a weaker variant of a gene that helps digest pesticides were nine times more likely to have symptoms.”
After almost three decades trying to prove “that an environmental toxin was responsible for sickening roughly 250,000 U.S. troops” who served in the Persian Gulf War, Haley hopes this research “could pave the way for more veterans to access health care and benefits and open up research into possible treatments.”
Read the full article from Military.com.
What Is Presumptive Service Connection For Va Compensation
For presumptive service connection, there is no need to establish a link between the incurrence in service and the current condition. The link is presumed if the claim is for the 120 or so presumptive service connected conditions listed in the regulations.
However, evidence must establish that the claimant had the particular duty assignment or was in the particular location in order for the presumption to apply. There are various categories of presumptive service connected claims which we will discuss here.
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Impact Of Agent Orange Exposure On Bladder Cancer
Evidence linking agent orange exposure to bladder cancer has existed for years, but it took an act of Congress at the end of 2020 to force VA to update its presumptive list.
This Act comes following the Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2014 report that was released in March of 2016. In this report, the National Academy of Medicine released new research that, for the first time, recognized that evidence exists regarding a link between bladder cancer and Agent Orange exposure.
Specifically, the report stated there was limited or suggestive evidence of an association, which is an upgrade from its previous inadequate or insufficient association. This determination was based on evidence that higher levels of exposure to herbicide agents are associated with an approximately 2-fold increase in death from bladder cancer. The updated report also studied the connections between hypothyroidism, hypertension, and Parkinsons-like symptoms, and exposure to Agent Orange.
Va To Announce Decision On New Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions
Several years after a scientific body recommended that the Department of Veterans Affairs consider adding four conditions bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, hypertension and Parkinsons-like symptoms to the list of qualifying diseases tied to Agent Orange, affected veterans may soon find out whether they are eligible for disability compensation and VA health care.
During a Senate Veterans Affairs hearing Tuesday on the VA budget, Dr. Richard Stone, the executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, said a decision on the three illnesses likely would come in the next 90 days.
Responding to a question from Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Stone said the VA is working through this right now, and it would be my hope to have a decision within three months. He added that the recommendation will go to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie for final approval.
Its took this country far too long to come to terms with Agent Orange, Brown said.
In March 2016, the National Academy of Medicine found evidence that two conditions, bladder cancer and hypothyroidism, are likely linked to Agent Orange exposure and that a third condition, Parkinson-like symptoms, also should be included on the list of diseases presumed to be related to contact with the herbicide.
The VA announced Thursday it will not appeal the decision by a federal judge to award benefits to the veterans, known as the Blue Water Navy.
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Congress Approves 2021 Cost
A 2021 cost-of-living increase for veterans benefits, recently approved by lawmakers, is set to match whatever increase is passed by Social Security officials.
While the amount of the projected cost-of-living increase is unknown, “early estimates suggest anywhere from 1.1% to 1.3%.”
The increase will take effect December 1, 2020.
Read more at ConnectingVets.
Va Will Outsource All Compensation And Pension Exams
VA has announced that it will stop conducting its own compensation and pension exams entirely and will instead contract them out to the private sector. Compensation and pension exams are used to determine veterans’ entitlement to VA disability benefits, and VA is currently working through a backlog of over 300,000 exam requests. While VA has come to rely more on contactors to do these exams in recent years, the Government Accountability Office reported in 2018 that the department doesn’t track whether contractors are meeting quality and timeliness standards.
Read more at Stars & Stripes.
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What Is A Presumptive Condition
A presumptive condition is any health condition or symptom assumed to be caused by ones military service. For example, if a Veteran experiences hearing loss some years after leaving the military, that hearing loss is presumed to be caused by their service-related exposure to loud noises like gunshots, aircraft engines, and more.
Normally, a Veteran must prove a direct link between their time in the military and their current symptoms to receive VA disability benefits. For example, Veterans typically need medical notes or other records showing their symptoms and when they began. They also need notes and records showing what they were exposed to and what they did while in the military.
Presumptive conditions, however, dont require Veterans to provide this evidence or otherwise prove a link. If a Veteran has a presumptive condition, its assumed that they received that condition during their military service. This usually means that Veterans will receive their disability benefits much more quickly and easily than usual.
Since bladder cancer is now a presumptive condition for Agent Orange exposure, Veterans who served in the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and in similar theaters during certain timeframes may now be eligible to receive benefits they were previously denied.
Va Resumes Debt Collection After Pausing Due To Coronavirus
The Department of Veterans Affairs has resumed overpayment notifications for new debts as well as debts deferred from April 6, 2020 through September 30, 2021 due to the pandemic.
VA will not deduct debts from benefits payments until January 2022.
For benefit debt information, submit requests online or call 1-800-827-0648.
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How The Va Rates The Residuals Of Bladder Cancer
Even if your cancer is in remission, you can still be eligible for VA disability benefits if you have residual symptoms that are related to your injury, the cancer, or the treatment you received. Residual symptoms and dysfunctions most commonly include the inability to adequately void your bladder or some sort of kidney dysfunction.
- Renal dysfunction: The VA rating for kidney dysfunction as a residual of bladder cancer ranges from 0%-100% depending on the severity of your symptoms. If you need kidney dialysis, youll likely receive a rating of 100%.
- Bladder voiding dysfunction: Dysfunction can include leakage, obstructed voiding, and urinary frequency. Again, your VA rating is dependent upon the severity of your symptoms and can range from 0% to 60%.
- Erectile dysfunction : If you experience ED as a result of your bladder cancer, you may qualify for special monthly compensation for what is considered loss of use of a creative organ. The SMC is added to your basic compensation rate.