The Department of Veterans Affairs (otherwise known as the VA) has announced that it will be proposing a list of rare cancers to be added to the list of presumed service-connected disabilities. The proposal comes after a public outcry to deal with certain rare medical conditions that disproportionately affect U.S. military veterans, which are attributed to exposure to carcinogenic toxins while in the service. Adding these conditions to the presumed condition list could help many veterans obtain disability benefits they need to help care for themselves while being treated for these rare and potentially deadly cancers.
What is the Presumed Condition List?
The list of presumed service-connected disabilities is a list of known medical conditions that are incredibly rare, but which either appear only in veterans, or which appear at a disproportionately high rate in veterans. These conditions are, unlike most other disabilities, considered to be the result of a veteran’s military service, even without medical evidence specifically pointing to that fact. While the reason for these conditions being so prominent among veterans is not always clear, they are often blamed on exposure to burn pits, and other potential sources of exposure to toxic or carcinogenic substances.
Why Are These Conditions Being Added to the List?
These disabilities are being added to the presumed condition list because of how many veterans suffer from types of cancer that are otherwise extremely rare. However, because the rates of these cancers are non-zero outside of the military, it can be very difficult to tie a person’s disability to their service. This leaves veterans in a difficult position, and may result in them being unfairly denied benefits they would otherwise be entitled to.
What Conditions are They Adding to the List?
The new list of conditions they are proposing adding to the list include:
- Squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx or trachea
- Adenocarcinoma of the trachea or lung
- Salivary gland-type tumors of the trachea.
- Adenosquamous carcinoma of the lung.
- Large cell carcinoma of the lung.
- Salivary gland-type tumors of the lung.
- Sarcomatoid carcinoma of the lung.
- Typical and atypical carcinoid of the lung.
Why is the Presumed Condition List Important?
The presumed condition list is important because it removes one of the most significant barriers many disabled veterans face when seeking VA disability benefits. Without the need to prove their conditions are related to their service, they can more easily get through the application process and obtain their benefits more quickly. This is especially important for cancers and other conditions, where it can be difficult to prove exactly where someone might have gotten sick.
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.