On January 29, 2019, a 9-2 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned past court opinions and stated that the Department of Veterans Affairs cannot deny disability benefits to Vietnam veterans who claim exposure to cancer-causing chemical defoliants merely because those veterans served in the waters off the coastline of Vietnam and not inland. This is a major victory for "blue water" Navy veterans who have fought for years over these denials.
The VA has filed a motion to stay implementation, which suspends final action on claims potentially affected by the Procopio decision, while the VA continues to evaluate the court's decision. Until this litigation and determinations have been resolved, rating decisions in these claims cannot take place.
The following language will be used to acknowledge receipt of a claim (or appeal) for service connection that includes Procopio exposure:
We have received your claim [or appeal] for (insert the disability(ies), or death, accrued or burial claim) based upon claimed herbicide exposure. Your claim [or appeal] may be affected by a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Procopio v. Wilkie. VA is evaluating the court's decision for further action. Currently, VA has temporarily suspended deciding these claims and appeals until further guidance is received from the Department of Veterans Affairs General Counsel. Once we have that guidance, we will resume processing your claim [or appeal].
Our law firm is evaluating cases and seeking compensation for individuals who have experienced serious health problems following herbicide exposure after service in Vietnam with exposure to Agent Orange. Call our office to complete a confidential no cost case evaluation. We do no charge a fee unless we recover for you. You can reach our office by calling (251)343-1111 or 1-800-332-1529. You can also reach us by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org .