VA Adds Three New Presumptive Conditions Related to Agent Orange Exposure

June 06, 2021

On May 27, 2021, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that they would be adding three new presumptive conditions to the list of Agent Orange exposure disability.

The three conditions; Bladder Cancer, Hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism were added as provisions under the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (Public Law 116-283).

Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that affects the bladder where urine is stored before it leaves the body. The most common type of bladder cancer starts in the cells that line the inside of the bladder. This is called urothelial or transitional cell carcinoma.

Hypothyroidism is a condition that causes the thyroid gland to not produce enough of certain hormones in the body. Hypothyroidism can cause health problems like obesity, joint pain, infertility, and heart disease.

Parkinsonism is any condition that causes a combination of abnormal movements. These include slow movements, trouble speaking, stiff muscles, or tremors. Tremors are rhythmic shaking movements in a part of the body caused by muscle contractions that you can’t control.

Eligibility for VA Disability Benefits

Veterans suffering from illneses caused by Agent Orange exposure are entitled to disability benefits from VA if they:

  • Are a Military, Naval, and/or Air Service veteran.
  • Served between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975.
  • Were aboard a U.S. Military vessel in the inland waterways of Vietnam.
  • Served within 12-nautical miles of Vietnam and Cambodia at certain geographical points.

Additionally, any Vietnam veteran that was previously denied benefits for one of these three new presumptive conditions will have their case automatically reviewed without needing to refile a claim. Impacted veterans should expect a letter in the mail from VA.

This also applies to veterans that have not filed a claim. You may file a new claim and do not have to provide additional medical nexus letters or opinions. If you fit this expanded eligibility, your claim will be approved.

If a veteran died before their claim received a decision, a surviving spouse, child, or parent can take their place in the claim. “Surviving spouse” also includes re-married spouses, as long as you were married to the veteran at the time of their death.

VA is required to take this look back at denied claims as part of a settlement in Nehmer vs. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (1991). We discussed this lawsuit and settlement in-depth in a recent video covering Blue Water Navy Denials, take a look at that if you haven’t already.

Agent Orange Presumptive Diseases List

Below you will find a list of cancers and illnesses caused by agent orange exposure that VA recognizes as presumptive diseases.

Cancers Caused by Agent Orange Exposure

  • Bladder cancer
  • Chronic B-cell Leukemia
  • Hodgkin’s Disease
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Prostate cancer
  • Respiratory cancers
    • Includes cancers of the lungs, larynx, trachea, and bronchus.
  • Some soft tissue sarcomas
    • Includes different types of cancers in body tissue such as muscle, fat, blood and lymph vessels, and connective tissues.
      • Does not include osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma.

Illnesses Caused by Agent Orange Exposure

  • AL amyloidosis
  • Chloracne (or other types of acneiform disease like it)
  • Diabetes mellitus type 2
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Parkinsonism
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Peripheral neuropathy, early onset
  • Porphyria cutanea tarda

If you are a veteran or surviving spouse that has been denied disability benefits under these three new conditions, you are entitled to those benefits. Give us a call at Legal Help For Veterans, PLLC for additional assistance at (800) 693-4800 or contact us online.

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