Disability Compensation for Presumptive Conditions

Agent Orange

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:

Southwest Asia and Persian Gulf

You may be eligible for VA health and disability benefits if you served any amount of time in the Southwest Asia theater of operations from Aug. 2, 1990, to the present, or Afghanistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Uzbekistan or Yemen from Sept. 11, 2001, to the present.

Any veteran who has or had one of the following cancers at any time during or after separation from military service may be eligible for disability compensation benefits. VA will contact impacted veterans and survivors to inform them about their eligibility and will provide information on how to apply.

Veterans, survivors or dependents who had claims previously denied for any of these respiratory cancers are encouraged to file a supplemental claim for benefits. 

  • Asthma diagnosed after leaving the service
  • The following types of cancer:
    • Brain cancer
    • Head cancer of any type
    • Gastrointestinal cancer of any type
    • Glioblastoma
    • Kidney cancer
    • Lymphoma cancer of any type
    • Lymphatic cancer of any type.
    • Melanoma
    • Neck cancer of any type
    • Pancreatic cancer
    • Reproductive cancer of any type
    • Respiratory cancer of any type
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic rhinitis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Emphysema
  • Granulomatous disease
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Pleuritis
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Sarcoidosis.

If you, or a loved one served in a qualifying area and suffer from one of the listed conditions, you should apply for benefits as soon as possible. Veterans, survivors or dependents who had claims previously denied for any of these respiratory cancers are encouraged to file a supplemental claim for benefits. 

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 Aug. 1, 1953 and Dec. 31, 1987. This means:

  • 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 them.
  • 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 for VA Medical Care include:

  1. Bladder cancer
  2. Breast Cancer
  3. Esophageal cancer
  4. Female Infertility
  5. Hepatic steatosis
  6. Kidney cancer
  7. Leukemia
  8. Lung Cancer
  9. Miscarriage
  10. Multiple myeloma
  11. Myelodysplastic syndromes
  12. Neurobehavioral effects
  13. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  14. Renal toxicity
  15. Scleroderma

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.

The VA has also established a presumptive service connection for veterans, reservists, and National Guard members exposed to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune from Aug. 1, 1953 through Dec. 31, 1987 who later developed one of the following eight diseases:

  1. Adult leukemia
  2. Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  3. Bladder cancer
  4. Kidney cancer
  5. Liver cancer
  6. Multiple myeloma
  7. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  8. Parkinson's disease

The area included in this presumption is all of Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River, including satellite camps and housing areas.

This presumption complements the health care already provided for 15 illnesses or conditions listed above.

Gulf War Veterans With Chronic Disabilities

Veterans who served in Persian Gulf or Southwest Asia Theater of Operations at any time since Aug. 2, 1990 may be eligible for disability benefits for several presumptive conditions.

If one of the following illnesses manifests itself at any time during or after Gulf War service it may be considered presumptively service connected:

  • Certain Rare Lung Cancers
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Functional gastrointestinal disorders

Also, Gulf War and SW Asia veterans who suffer from undiagnosed illnesses with multiple symptoms may be eligible for treatment or disability benefits from the VA. These presumptive symptoms include: 

  • abnormal weight loss
  • cardiovascular issues
  • fatigue
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • headache
  • joint pain
  • menstrual disorders
  • muscle pain
  • neurological issues
  • respiratory system problems
  • sleep disturbances
  • unexplained rashes or other skin problems

See our Gulf War Syndrome page for more details.

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.

Vietnam Veterans Exposed To Agent Orange And Other Herbicides

If you served in one of the following locations and suffer from one of the designated medical conditions you may be eligible for VA medical and disability benefits:

  • Vietnam from Jan. 9, 1962, through May 7, 1975;
  • Thailand at any U.S. or Royal Thai base from Jan. 9, 1962, through June 30, 1976;
  • Laos from Dec. 1, 1965, through Sept. 30, 1969;
  • Cambodia at Mimot or Krek, Kampong Cham Province from April 16, 1969, through April 30, 1969; or
  • Guam or American Samoa, or in their waters, from Jan. 9, 1962, through July 31, 1980, or on Johnston Atoll or on a ship that visited Johnston Atoll from Jan. 1, 1972, through Sept. 30, 1977.

The following conditions are considered presumptive service connected for exposed veterans:

  • AL amyloidosis
  • B-cell leukemia
  • Bladder cancer
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Ischemic heart disease (including but not limited to, coronary artery disease and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease)
  • Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Parkinsonism
  • Prostate cancer
  • Respiratory cancers
  • Soft-tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, or mesothelioma)

See our Agent Orange page for more details including locations that may qualify you.

Veterans Exposed To Radiation

For veterans who participated in radiation risk activities while on active duty, the following conditions are presumed to be service connected:

  • All forms of leukemia, except chronic lymphocytic leukemia 
  • Cancer of the thyroid, breast, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, bile ducts, gall bladder, salivary gland, urinary tract, brain, bone, lung, colon or ovary
  • Bronchioloalveolar carcinoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Lymphomas, other than Hodgkin’s disease
  • Primary liver cancer, except if there are indications of cirrhosis or hepatitis B

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.

Veterans With 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 VA's website. Different health conditions have different time limits for filing VA claims. Contact the VA for more information.

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

Stay on Top of Your Veteran Benefits

Military benefits are always changing. Keep up with everything from pay to health care by subscribing to Military.com, and get access to up-to-date pay charts and more with all latest benefits delivered straight to your inbox.

Story Continues