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 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit stated that Congress never intended to exclude servicemembers in the seas around Vietnam when they awarded presumptive benefits for certain illnesses related to Agent Orange exposure. VA officials will have 90 days to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court will then have to decide to hear the case for this decision to possibly be overturned. If the VA decides not to appeal this decision, it could result in up to 90,000 blue water veterans seeing disability payouts.
For more information on VA Disability Benefits, contact an experienced VA disability attorney at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. represents VA disability claimants in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana at all levels of the disability process