The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (also known as the VA) has added three new diseases to its list of presumptive disabilities based on the risk of toxic exposure. These three new diseases, which includes asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis, will now receive special treatment under the law, making it easier for veterans to apply for disability benefits based on those conditions. This will, in turn, reduce the difficulty that many veterans have had in seeking disability benefits from the VA.
What Are Presumptive Disabilities?
Presumptive disabilities are those that are, by default, assumed to be the result of medical issues that someone suffered during their military service. This allows them to shortcut the normal application process, which typically requires proving a person’s disability is the result of their military service. As a result, it makes it much easier for veterans suffering from these disabilities to apply for disability benefits.
Why is There a Presumptive Disabilities List?
For years, people who serve on or near certain military bases have suffered from medical problems that they had a great deal of difficulty proving were related to their service. This is often attributed to the military’s practice of disposing of waste by incinerating them in so-called “burn pits.” These burn pits often included substances and materials that may give off toxic fumes when burned, which people downwind of the burn pits would inhale.
Due to the military’s penchant for secrecy, however, information on the medical effects of burn pit exposure remains scarce. The presumptive disabilities list gets around this issue by making it easier for veterans with certain disabilities to apply for benefits, allowing them to get around having to prove the origin of their disabilities. This does not just apply to veterans suffering from burn pit exposure, but also certain other recognized groups, including people exposed to Agent Orange and those who suffer from “Gulf War Syndrome,” as it is commonly known.
Why Were These Disabilities Added to the List?
Asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis are all exceptionally common diseases in veterans exposed to burn bits, but the process of getting these diseases recognized as service-related disabilities has been difficult. With these disabilities added to the presumptive disabilities list, veterans suffering from asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis will have a much easier time getting the benefits they deserve. However, they may still want to consult with a lawyer with experience handling veterans’ disability matters to know how this may impact their case.
The attorneys of Sullivan & Kehoe place a special focus on assisting disabled veterans. Our veterans’ disability lawyers are still available for remote consultation on your legal issues. Call our office at (800) 395-7830 to schedule a consultation in our New York City, Garden City, Kings Park, Riverhead, or White Plains office, or visit our contact page.