The Big News in Military Disability

The Big News in Military Disability

Thursday, August 18, 2022

24 New Conditions Added for Burn Pit Exposure (plus other PACT Act changes)

Last week, the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2021 (known as “Honoring our PACT Act of 2021”) was signed into law by the President.  

The purpose of the PACT Act is “to improve health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances, and for other purposes.” 

We discussed all of the changes the PACT Act will now instigate in a previous article (including changes to health care eligibility, various research efforts looking into the effects of toxic exposure, improved training for VA employees dealing with any aspect of a toxic exposure claim, etc.), but the most ground-breaking changes have occurred in the VA Presumptive Lists.  


Changes to the Agent Orange Presumptive List


For Agent Orange Exposure, more veterans are now able to claim conditions based on additional service locations and periods. 


All veterans who served in the following locations during the periods indicated are now eligible to claim Agent Orange exposure:

·      Thailand on a US or Royal Thai base (between January 9, 1962 and June 30, 1976)

·      Laos (between December 1, 1965 and September 30, 1969)

·      Cambodia at Mimot or Krek (between April 16, 1969 and April 30, 1969)

·      Johnston Atoll (between January 1, 1972 and September 30, 1977)

·      Guam or American Samoa (between January 9, 1962 and July 31, 1980) 


The end date for service in Vietnam has also be extended to May 7, 1975. 


Finally, two conditions have been added to the Agent Orange List:  hypertension and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance.


Changes to the Radiation Exposure Presumptive List


For Radiation Exposure, the list has been expanded to include veterans who participated in cleanup activities or nuclear responses in the following locations during the periods indicated:


·       Palomares, Spain (between January 17, 1966 and March 31, 1967)

·       Thule, Greenland (between January 21, 1968 and September 25, 1968)

·       Enewetak Atoll (between January 1, 1977 and December 31, 1980) 


Changes to the Burn Pit Presumptive List


By far, the most changes have been made to the Burn Pit Exposure List. This list has been expanded to include veterans who served in the following dates and locations:


·      Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, or the United Arab Emirates on or after August 2, 1990

·      Afghanistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Uzbekistan, or the Philippines on or after September 11, 2001


The following 24 conditions have also been added to the list: 


·      asthma

·      chronic bronchitis

·      chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

·      constrictive or obliterative bronchiolitis

·      emphysema

·      granulomatous disease

·      interstitial lung disease

·      pleuritis

·      pulmonary fibrosis

·      sarcoidosis

·      chronic sinusitis

·      chronic rhinitis

·      glioblastoma

·      head cancer

·      neck cancer

·      respiratory cancer

·      gastrointestinal cancer

·      reproductive cancer

·      lymphoma cancer

·      lymphomatic cancer

·      kidney cancer

·      brain cancer

·      melanoma

·      pancreatic cancer


Changes to the Persian Gulf Presumptive List


For Persian Gulf veterans, veterans who served in Afghanistan, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, or Jordan have been added to the list of eligible countries in Southwest Asia. 


Also, the conditions on this list are now no longer required to manifest to a certain severity within a certain time frame. Instead, they now qualify if they manifest “to any degree at any time.” 


Receiving PACT Act Benefits


So what do you do if you now qualify for benefits under the new PACT Act? 


If you submitted a claim before but it was denied, you can have your claim reopened by submitting a Supplemental Claim.


If you have not yet claimed benefits now covered by the PACT Act, you can do so by submitting a new claim


It is important to submit your claim as soon as possible to ensure that you receive the maximum benefits. While the VA won’t be processing PACT Act benefits until January 2023 since they have to wait for Congress to approve funding, they will make the effective date the date of the bill signing (August 10, 2022), or another effective date specified in the law, if you submit your claim promptly. 

Monday, April 25, 2022

Nine Respiratory Cancers added to the Burn Pit and Other Particulate Presumptive List

Starting tomorrow, April 26th, 2022 the VA will grant presumptive service-connection for nine respiratory cancers to veterans who served in Southwest Asia on or after August 2, 1990 or in Afghanistan, Syria, Uzbekistan, or Djibouti on or after September 19th, 2001.


All of the cancers on the following list are all so rare that they have little-to-no medical research to prove their cause. These rare cancers, however, have a higher-than-usual incidence rate in veterans who served in these locations during these times. Because of this, the VA looked into published research of similar conditions and found a compelling argument that these rare cancers could plausibly be linked to particulate exposure, despite the lack of direct evidence. 


Since these cancers are so rare, the research necessary to undeniably prove their cause is unlikely to ever be performed. Thus, the VA is adding these cancers to the Presumptive List to ensure that the effected veterans are able to have their conditions service-connected without the usual evidential requirements.  


The new Presumptive Respiratory Cancers include:

·       Squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx

·       Squamous cell carcinoma of the trachea

·       Adenocarcinoma of the trachea

·       Salivary gland-type tumors of the trachea

·       Adenosquamous carcinoma of the lung

·       Large cell carcinoma of the lung

·       Salivary gland-type tumors of the lung

·       Sarcomatoid carcinoma of the lung

·       Typical and atypical carcinoid of the lung


All claims for these conditions that are received on or after April 26th, 2022, or that are pending at any level of the VA system (claims, appeals, etc.) on this date, will qualify for presumptive service-connection as long as they meet the service requirements. 


If you have not claimed these conditions before or have been denied in the past, go ahead and submit a new claim so you can start receiving your deserved benefits!

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Huge Increase in VA Disability Rates for 2022

The largest increase in VA Disability Rates since 1983 is now in effect!

Starting December 1, 2021, veterans will see a 5.9% increase in their VA Disability Rates, including their Special Monthly Compensation Rates.

Congress increases VA compensation rates based on inflation, and with the cost of living skyrocketing over this past year, the COLA has reached an unusually high increase of 5.9%. 

Curious what your new 2022 VA Disability payment will be? You can find all the new rates in our VA Disability Chart and Special Monthly Compensation Rates Table

These new rates will be automatically reflected in your next payment. You do not need to do anything to receive the 2022 VA Disability Rates.