Disability Benefits for Vietnam Navy Veterans Expanded with New Law, Explains Allsup
Blue Water Navy veterans and eligible family members may qualify for VA disability benefits with presumed exposure to harmful chemicals like Agent Orange
Belleville, Illinois — January 24, 2020 — Navy veterans who served on ships that entered the coastal waterways of Vietnam and who now have one or more medical conditions relating to herbicide exposure, including Agent Orange, may quality for disability benefits under a new law that took effect Jan. 1, 2020, according to Allsup Veterans Disability Appeal Services®.
The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 applies to any BWN veteran who in the timeframe of between 1/9/1962 to 5/7/1975:
- Were aboard a U.S. military vessel that operated in the inland waterways of Vietnam, or
- Served on a vessel not more than 12 nautical miles seaward from the demarcation line of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia (as detailed in Public Law 116-23, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019)
It also applies to veterans who served in the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) for any amount of time between 9/1/1967 to 8/31/1971, where dangerous herbicides such as Agent Orange were used.
“The new law makes it clear that Congress expands disability coverage to veterans with debilitating medical conditions that can be caused by exposure to herbicides like Agent Orange,” said Brett Buchanan, VA-accredited claims agent with Allsup. “Survivors and veterans whose herbicide exposure claims were denied now should consider filing a new claim under this law.”
Veterans are not required to prove that they were exposed to the herbicide in order to receive VA disability benefits. Rather, if a veteran has one of the 14 VA-approved presumptive diseases (listed below) related to exposure, they may be eligible for VA disability benefits.
Previously, the VA’s presumption of exposure extended to veterans who served on land or on the inland waterways of Vietnam. Under the new law, applicants are likely to experience lengthy wait times, as the VA must verify if each veteran served within the new location and date requirements.
“This ruling provides a needed change for veterans who previously were left out of the VA compensation program after their service in Vietnam,” Buchanan said. “However, long wait times and complex appeals options also mean this is an important time to get help from a veteran appeals expert to ensure veterans get the disability benefits they’ve earned.”
The 14 VA-approved presumptive diseases include the following cancers and other diseases.
- Chronic B-cell leukemia
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Prostate cancer
- Respiratory cancers (including lung cancer)
- Soft tissue sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma)
- AL amyloidosis
- Chloracne (or other types of acneiform diseases like it)
- Diabetes mellitus type 2
- Ischemic heart disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Peripheral neuropathy, early onset
- Porphyria cutanea tarda
The VA also has extended benefits to children with spina bifida whose veteran parent was exposed to herbicides while serving in Thailand, as well as to certain survivors of the BWN and veterans of the Korean DMZ who have died from at least one of the 14 presumptive health conditions related to herbicide exposure.
If any BWN or Korean DMZ veteran has a condition they believe was caused by herbicide exposure but is not on the list of presumed conditions, they will need scientific and medical evidence showing that their health condition is connected to harmful-chemical exposure – like Agent Orange – or that the condition was caused by or made worse by military service.
For questions about benefits and filing VA disability appeals, visit Allsup Veterans Disability Appeals Service or call (888) 372-1190.
Allsup and its subsidiaries provide nationwide Social Security disability, veterans disability appeal, return to work, exchange plan and Medicare services for individuals, their employers and insurance carriers. Allsup professionals deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. Founded in 1984, the company is based in Belleville, Illinois, near St. Louis. Learn more at TrueHelp.com and @Allsup or download a free PDF of Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance: Getting It Right The First Time.