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Disability Compensation for Presumptive Conditions

A UC-123B Provider aircraft sprays the defoliant Agent Orange over South Vietnam in 1962. A new report says the planes remained contaminated for years after the war, while Air Force Reserve units used them for medical, transport and training missions.

VA presumes that specific disabilities diagnosed in certain veterans were caused by their military service. VA does this because of the unique circumstances of their military service. If one of these conditions is diagnosed in a Veteran in one of these groups, VA presumes that the circumstances of his/her service caused the condition, and disability compensation can be awarded.

The following diseases and conditions are considered to be part of this program:

Certain chronic and tropical diseases

Examples are: multiple sclerosis, diabetes mellitus, and arthritis. These may be considered service connected if the disease becomes at least 10% disabling within the applicable time limit following service. For a comprehensive list of these chronic diseases, see 38 CFR 3.309; for applicable time limits, see 38 CFR 3.307.

All Veterans who develop Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease

At any time after separation from service may be eligible for compensation for that disability. To be eligible, the Veteran must have served a minimum of 90 consecutive days of active service.

Prisoners of War

For former POWs who were imprisoned for any length of time, the following disabilities are presumed to be service connected if they become at least 10 percent disabling anytime after military service: psychosis, any of the anxiety states, dysthymic disorder, organic residuals of frostbite, post-traumatic osteoarthritis, atherosclerotic heart disease or hypertensive vascular disease and their complications, stroke and its complications, and, effective Oct.10, 2008, osteoporosis if the Veteran has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Former POWs who were imprisoned for at least 30 days: The following conditions are also presumed to be service connected: avitaminosis, beriberi, chronic dysentery, helminthiasis, malnutrition (including optic atrophy associated with malnutrition), pellagra and/or other nutritional deficiencies, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcer disease, peripheral neuropathy except where related to infectious causes, cirrhosis of the liver, and, effective Sept. 28, 2009, osteoporosis.

Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange and Other Herbicides

A Veteran who served in the Republic of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, is presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides used in support of military operations.

VA presumes the following diseases to be service-connected for such exposed Veterans:

  • AL amyloidosis,
  • Chloracne or other acneform disease similar to chloracne,
  • Chronic B-cell leukemias (including, but not limited to, hairy-cell leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia)
  • Diabetes mellitus (Type 2),
  • Hodgkin's disease,
  • Ischemic heart disease.
  • Multiple myeloma,
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma,
  • Parkinson's disease,
  • Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-Onset
  • Porphyria cutanea tarda,
  • Prostate cancer,
  • Respiratory cancers (lung, bronchus, larynx, trachea),
  • Soft-tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, or mesothelioma)

See our Agent Orange page for more details.

Veterans Exposed to Radiation

For Veterans who participated in radiation risk activities as defined in VA regulations while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, the following conditions are presumed to be service connected: all forms of leukemia (except for chronic lymphocytic leukemia); cancer of the thyroid, breast, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, bile ducts, gall bladder, salivary gland, urinary tract (renal pelvis, ureter, urinary bladder and urethra), brain, bone, lung, colon, and ovary; bronchiolo-alveolar carcinoma; multiple myeloma; lymphomas (other than Hodgkin's disease), and primary liver cancer (except if cirrhosis or hepatitis B is indicated).

To determine service connection for other conditions or exposures not eligible for presumptive service connection, VA considers factors such as the amount of radiation exposure, duration of exposure, elapsed time between exposure and onset of the disease, gender and family history, age at time of exposure, the extent to which a non-service exposure could contribute to disease, and the relative sensitivity of exposed tissue.

Gulf War Veterans with Chronic Disabilities

Veterans may receive disability compensation for chronic disabilities resulting from undiagnosed illnesses and/or medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illnesses defined by a cluster of signs or symptoms. A disability is considered chronic if it has existed for at least six months.

The undiagnosed illness must have appeared either during active service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Gulf War period of Aug. 2, 1990, to July 31, 1991, or to a degree of at least 10 percent at any time since then through Dec.31, 2016. This theater of operations includes Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, and the airspace above these locations.

Examples of symptoms of an undiagnosed illness and medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illness defined by a cluster of signs and symptoms include: chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, functional gastrointestinal disorders, fatigue, signs or symptoms involving the skin, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, neurological signs or symptoms, neuropsychological signs or symptoms, signs or symptoms involving the respiratory system (upper or lower), sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal signs or symptoms, cardiovascular signs or symptoms, abnormal weight loss, and menstrual disorders.

Presumptive service connection may be granted for the following infectious diseases if found compensable within a specific time period: Brucellosis, Campylobacter jejuni, Coxiella burnetti (Q fever), Malaria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Nontyphoid Salmonella, Shigella, Visceral leishmaniasis, and West Nile virus. Qualifying periods of service for these infectious diseases include active military, naval, or air service in the above stated Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Gulf War period of Aug. 2, 1990, until such time as the Gulf War is ended by Congressional action or Presidential proclamation; and active military, naval, or air service on or after Sept. 19, 2001, in Afghanistan.

See our Gulf War Syndrome page for more details.

Camp Lejeune

You may be eligible for VA health benefits if you served on active duty or resided at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987:

  • Veterans who are determined to be eligible will be able to receive VA health care. In addition, care for qualifying health conditions is provided at no cost to the Veteran (including copayments).
  • Eligible family members receive reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical expenses incurred from the treatment of qualifying health conditions after all other health insurance is applied.

Qualifying health conditions include:

  • Esophageal cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Renal toxicity
  • Female infertility
  • Scleroderma
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Lung cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Miscarriage
  • Neurobehavioral effects

A Camp Lejeune veteran does not need to have one of the 15 health conditions to be eligible to receive VA health care, nor do they need a service connected disability to be eligible as a Camp Lejeune veteran for VA health care.

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