Does Va Presume Service Connection For Burn Pit Exposure
While VA has established presumptive service connection for some conditions caused by Agent Orange exposure, there is currently no presumptive service connection for conditions linked to military burn pits.
Presumptive service connection, in the case of Agent Orange, essentially means that the veteran does not need to prove a connection between the in-service event and their condition.. The veteran need only provide evidence that they have a disability on VAs list of conditions associated with Agent Orange and that they served in one of the time periods and locations during which VA has acknowledged Agent Orange exposure occurred.
Since there is no presumption for military burn pit cases, VA adjudicates these claims on a case-by-case basis.
Agent Orange Hypothyroidism And Hashimotos Disease
In 2021, the National Defense Authorization Act added hypothyroidism, and two other conditions, to the list of presumptive conditions for which VA grants service connection for veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during their service. Specifically, in order to be eligible for presumptive service connection for hypothyroidism, the veteran needs to have served in one of the following locations during the specified time frames:
- Boots-on-the-ground in Vietnam, veterans with service aboard a ship that operated in the inland waterways of Vietnam , or veterans with service aboard a ship in Vietnams territorial seas between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975
- On or near the Korean demilitarized zone between September 1, 1967 and August 31, 1971
- Active duty and reservist personnel who had regular contact with C-123 aircraft between 1969 and 1986
Essentially, the addition of hypothyroidism to the list means that veterans do not have to prove a medical nexus between their condition and their military service.
What Is The Burn Pit Registry
Recognizing the growing issue with burn pit exposure and subsequent medical conditions, VA established the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. The Registry, which you can access on VAs website, offers a starting point for building your VA disability claim. You can add your name to the registry and begin creating a record that you were exposed and later became ill.
That said, participation in the Burn Pit Registry and filing a VA disability compensation claim are two separate things, and one does not influence the other in any way. Adding your name to the Burn Pit Registry does not initiate a disability claim, nor does it hold your place in the claim queue . The Registry was established by Congress for VA to track service members who were exposed and use the data to identify trends and draw conclusions regarding burn pits impacts on service members health.
Eligible veterans may complete the burn pit registry questionnaire and an optional health evaluation at a VA medical facility. This health evaluation, or exam, is a free benefit to which veterans are entitled. The exam is not a Compensation & Pension exam and is not required to receive VA benefits.
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Tip #1 Dont Skip Your C& p Exam
Translation: You must report to your scheduled C& P exam unless you have Good Cause for missing it.
Weve heard rumors that some folks are telling veterans not to show-up to their C& P exams.
They are wrong!
Dont fall into this trap.
If you dont attend your C& P exam, the VA Rater can either make a rating decision based on your submitted evidence alone or in some circumstances deny the claim.
Pro Tip:§ 3.655 Failure to report for a VA C& P Exam. When entitlement or continued entitlement for VA disability benefits cannot be established or confirmed without a current VA examination and the claimant fails to report without good cause, the VA Rater shall act in accordance with the table below.
|If the veteran fails to report for a C& P exam without good cause in connection with a:||Then the VA Rater should:|
|Original VA disability compensation claim, orNew claim||Decide the claim based on the evidence of record.|
|Increased evaluation claim, or|
|Discontinuance or termination is only finalized after due process, as provided in M21-1, Part IV, Subpart ii, 2.B. Reduction or discontinuance will not be finalized when the claimant submits evidence during the proposed reduction period justifying continuation of the benefit or indicates a willingness to report for examination.|
Limit The Information You Provide
It seems rather strange to suggest limiting information after having prepared by writing down all of your symptoms and their impact on your life . However, limiting the information you provide doesnt mean leaving out symptoms, nor does it mean that you should be untruthful. It means that you should keep your answers short, providing only the information that you were asked for. A good rule of thumb is to keep your answers around 20 seconds or less. The reason for this is that the information offered in a lengthy explanation is often lost. Losing or not being able to glean the specific facts they need to make a decision can result in a denial of your claim. Before your appointment, practice stating the reason that your disability is related to military service in 20 seconds. As a spouse, family member, or friend to evaluate your answer to that question so that you can work on making your answer as concise as possible.
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What Does A Va C& p Exam Consist Of
The purpose of the C& P exam is to determine whether your condition is related to service and/or the extent of your service-connected disability. It is not much different than a doctors appointment you will answer questions about your condition and the examiner will evaluate your condition with a series of tests that will vary depending on your condition.
Our Attorneys Can Help You Get A New Medical Exam
If you believe that your doctor made an error in the assessment of your case, we can help. The attorneys at Cuddigan Law can help determine if you have grounds to request a new examination, and we do not collect fees from you unless we win your case. Call us today at 402-933-5405 to ask us a question about your disability case.
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Are You Eligible For Compensation
If you were exposed to a burn pit for any period of time during your military service, you could be eligible to receive disability compensation from the VA.
This list of burn pit presumptive conditions is a great place to start. Read through these health conditions and see if any apply to you. From there, you can delve into secondary service-connected disabilities, too.
Need a little help as you navigate these next steps? Thats why were here. Get in touch today for a free legal consultation.
Gulf War Registry Health Exam For Veterans
VAs Gulf War Registry Health Exam alerts Veterans to possible long-term health problems that may be related to environmental exposures during their military service. The registry data helps VA understand and respond to these health problems more effectively.
Contact your local VA Environmental Health Coordinator about getting a Gulf War Registry health exam.
The pandemic is improving but is still not over. We highly encourage all Veterans to receive a vaccination.
Many sites are open for registry exams but some local restrictions and closures may still apply. Some sites are offering telehealth registry exams. Please contact your local Environmental Health Coordinator to find out more. We appreciate the importance of the registry evaluations to understand military environmental exposures. As a reminder, these exams are not tied to care, treatment or benefits. Please call your local VA medical center if you have a medical issue that needs attention. We remain committed to serving Veterans. VA will update the status of registry exam scheduling when there is new information.
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What Is Hashimotos Disease
Hashimotos disease, or Hashimotos thyroiditis, is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. The condition is also referred to as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis. Hashimotos disease is an autoimmune disorder where the thyroid is chronically inflamed. The condition can be genetic, meaning it often runs in families.
Over time, the thyroid gland can weaken, which may impair the production of thyroid hormones. This could lead to a decrease in thyroid function, or hypothyroidism. The condition may affect any age group, but most commonly affects middle-aged women.
Burn Pits And The Open Burn Pit Registry
Exposure to toxic burn pits could be one of the most hazardous issues many veterans have had to face. When it comes to getting VA benefits related to burn pit exposure, the process is often lengthy and challenging, as proof of exposure during the veteran’s service is difficult to prove. For this reason, many VA claims for benefits from burn pits are denied.
The VA is working toward getting veterans the benefits to which they should be entitled by offering the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. The burn pit registry allows veterans to document their symptoms and conditions, giving the VA more information to work with when collecting data about the long-term health consequences of burn pits.
With this information in hand and the work veteran advocates and legislators are doing to make sure exposed veterans get benefits, the future is looking a little brighter for those who’ve worked alongside open burn pits. If you’d like to apply for benefits now, consider speaking with a VA disability attorney or a veterans service officer to get more information about applying for benefits and what to expect from the claims process.
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For First Time Some Burn Pit Victims Will Get Presumptive Status For Disability Benefits
Veterans exposed to harmful burn pit smoke while serving in certain overseas war zones will for the first time get presumptive disability benefits status under a new announcement by the Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday.
The move comes after years of lobbying from veterans advocates and months of legislative pressure from Capitol Hill on the issue. In a statement, VA Secretary Denis McDonough called the move the right decision to recognize the sacrifice of veterans.
Initially, the new move will cover only veterans suffering from three illnesses asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis and only if they manifested within 10 years of a veterans overseas service.
For now, the new presumptive benefits status does not include any rare cancers that numerous veterans groups have said have occurred in alarmingly high rates among veterans exposed to overseas burn pits. VA officials said more conditions may be added in the future.
Presumptive benefits status allows veterans applying for disability benefits to forgo certain paperwork and medical exams used to prove their injuries and illnesses are directly connected to their time in the military.
Similar status has been granted in the past for illnesses related to Agent Orange exposure during the Vietnam War, where widespread use of the chemical defoliant was well-known but difficult to prove in specific locations decades later.
Tips On Posting On The Forums
Post straightforward questions and then post background information.
- Question A. I was previously denied for apnea Should I refile a claim?
- Adding Background information in your post will help members understand what information you are looking for so they can assist you in finding it.
Rephrase the question: I was diagnosed with apnea in service and received a CPAP machine, but the claim was denied in 2008. Should I refile?
- Question B. I may have PTSD- how can I be sure?
- See how the details below give us a better understanding of what youre claiming.
Rephrase the question: I was involved in a traumatic incident on base in 1974 and have had nightmares ever since, but I did not go to mental health while enlisted. How can I get help?Can you post the Reasons for Denial of your claim?Note
Most Common VA Disabilities Claimed for Compensation:
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Us Court Of Appeals For Veterans Claims
- If you object to the BVAs decision, you may go next to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims .
- The Appeals Court will review the BVAs decision and determine whether the BVA made errors as it applied relevant statutes and regulations to your claim. The Appeals Court will affirm, reverse, or remand your case .
- To appeal a USCAVC decision, you must go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and plead your case. If the Federal Circuits decision is unsatisfactory, a veteran may petition the Supreme Court of the United States for final review.
- For the Supreme Court to accept your case, it must address a broad point of law that SCOTUS justices believe must be settled for the good of the country. Otherwise, the Supreme Court will decline to take your case, which would allow the Federal Circuit decision to stand.
How Does Exposure To Burn Pits Lead To Illness
For many years, the military used burn pits in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Djibouti to dispose of waste on military bases. The waste materials burned were set on fire in open-air pits and burned.
These open-air burn pits released toxins, carcinogens, smoke, and ash into the air, which then reached the skin, noses, and lungs of those in the vicinity. Following exposure, tens of thousands of veterans have reported lung diseases and other ailments as a result of their exposure.
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How Can A Va Disability Benefits Attorney Help With Your Burn Pit Exposure Claim
If you have been diagnosed with a disability you believe is related to burn pit exposure, our experienced Veterans benefits attorneys can help ensure that you receive the highest possible rating for your condition. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.
Common Mistakes Va Makes When Adjudicating Burn Pit Claims
Burn pit exposure claims are complicated and VA often gets them wrong. When VA gets a burn pit claim, training materials tell VA raters to obtain a medical exam from a physician. Often times, VA will confuse burn pit exposure claims with other types of claims, specifically those related to Gulf War Illness. Mistakes like these can be incredibly damaging to claims and present various setbacks for the veteran attempting to secure VA disability benefits.
Additionally, because burn pit claims do not have presumptions of exposure for certain conditions, veterans are often at a loss. For reasons such as this, burn pit claims have been notoriously difficult for veterans to win.
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Symptoms And Medical History
In the next section, youll answer questions about current health issues related to your occupational exposure. These include cardiovascular, breathing, and other health issues.
You may want to look at your health records before filling out this section to familiarize yourself with symptoms occurring after these deployments that you may have forgotten.
The Link Between Agent Orange And Burn Pits
Exposure to burns pits has also been associated with exposure to particulate matter and dioxins. Particulate matter can be particularly harmful when it enters the bloodstream or the lungs and has been associated with chronic respiratory conditions.
The main dioxin released by burn pits is . TCDD has been linked to various cancers and other serious disabilities. While VA acknowledges Agent Orange exposure has been linked to health conditions and offers presumptive service connection for some health conditions related to exposure, VA does not extend presumptive service connection to military burn pit exposure. Presumptive service connection means that the VA acknowledges the link between exposure and certain health conditions, therefore removing much of the burden to prove the connection between the condition and the exposure.
While veterans with Hashimotos Disease may be able to receive presumptive service connection if they are veterans of the Vietnam War era, there is no presumption of service connection for veterans with exposure stemming from burn pits. This can make it difficult for veterans with Hashimotos disease resulting for exposure to burn pits to secure VA disability benefits.
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Ive Had Va Claims Denied In The Past Can You Help Me
Likely, yes! Many times, erroneous claims denials come down to one of two issues: the VA overlooked evidence of record OR the veteran didnt provide sufficient evidence needed to grant the claim. These two are extremely common errors for a few reasons. Mainly, VA raters are under immense time pressure to adjudicate claims which leads to overlooking or missing evidence in their possession! Additionally, many veterans are simply unaware of what is required to award a grant of benefits. Many times, these types of errors can be corrected with a simple statement from the veteran explaining how the injury occurred.
When it comes to appeals, Congress and the VA have sought to simplify the options for veterans to challenge an initial VA decision. Those options are:
- Submit a Supplemental Claim supported by New and Relevant evidence
- Submit a request for a Higher Level Review by a more senior claims adjudicator
- Appeal to the Board of Veterans Affairs
Appealing to the Board comes with its own set of choices and options. These include:
- Direct review by a Veterans Law Judge
- Evidence Submission lane
- Hearing with a Veterans Law judge
Each appeal option has its own benefits and downsides. Choosing the best appeal lane is important to ensure a timely benefits decision. Our Arizona VA disability appeals lawyers have experience navigating the complex system of VA appeals and can assist you in choosing the best avenue!