President Biden has pledged to improve the VA disability benefits claims process specifically regarding Veterans with illnesses linked to toxic exposure to environmental hazards such as burn pits. The most common illnesses are respiratory disorders as well as lung cancer. The Administration’s aim is to make it easier for these Veterans to see specialists who can treat them, but also to allow for presumptive service connection for a wider range of illnesses.
The issue is “personal” for President Biden who has given voice to the belief that his late son, Beau’s, brain cancer was related to exposure to burn pits during his time in Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently, presumptive service connection for burn pit exposure can be granted for asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis. Presumptive service connection will be granted to those Veterans with the above listed illnesses that also meet service time and location requirements that can be found here.
The Administration hopes to add new conditions to the existing list “when the evidence is strong.” In addition to more research to determine if there are more illnesses that can be linked to toxic environmental exposure, VA also plans on reducing the burden of proof by comparing claims with findings from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, but also with VA research and data from VA patients and Veterans receiving disability compensation. Illnesses of particular interest to VA are constrictive bronchiolitis, lung cancers, and rare respiratory cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx or trachea and salivary gland-type tumors. These new illnesses related to burn pits and toxic environmental exposure are expected to have a similar process to those Vietnam-Era Veterans pursuing claims for exposure to Agent Orange and other tactical herbicides. If those illnesses are any indication, the list of burn pit related presumptive illnesses will likely grow in the coming years as well.
If you have any questions about VA benefits, the qualified Veterans’ Disability attorneys at Gardberg and Kemmerly want to help in any way possible. Please call our office and speak with one of our qualified Veterans’ Disability attorneys. Gardberg and Kemmerly is committed to helping injured and disabled Veterans obtain the benefits they deserve. If you need help with a disability claim, call our office at 251-343-1111 or 800-332-1529 for a free consultation. Gardberg and Kemmerly is proud to serve Veterans across the country from our home office in Mobile, Alabama. We would love an opportunity to discuss your claim.