What Is a Presumptive Condition?
If you served in the military and developed a disabling condition, you may be entitled to disability benefits from the VA if:
- Your disability arose during the course of your military service
- You had a preexisting condition that was aggravated by your military service
- You are diagnosed with a disability after your service in the military
Generally, you will need to provide evidence that the disability arose as a result of your service. However, the VA does recognize certain disabilities that are presumed to be connected to serving in the military. These are known as presumptive conditions.
Applying for veterans’ benefits can be challenging. If you need assistance, contact a veterans’ disability benefits lawyer at Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter today for a free consultation.
What Veterans Qualify for Presumptive Disability Benefits?
The VA presumes a connection between a veteran’s service and the disability he or she may have in the following scenarios:
- Veterans who develop a condition listed in the Federal Code of Regulations (Title 38 – Pensions, Bonuses, and Veterans’ Relief) that is diagnosed within 1 year of discharge and determined to be at least 10 percent disabling. Diseases with a presumptive service connection include (but are not limited to):
- Chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, arthritis, anemia, and more.
- Tropical diseases, including malaria, dysentery, cholera, yellow fever, and others.
- Veterans who develop the following presumptive conditions within a designated length of time greater than 1 year after being discharged:
- Tuberculosis – 3 years
- Hansen’s disease (also known as leprosy) – 3 years
- Multiple sclerosis (MS) – 7 years
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) – any time after discharge
- Veterans who develop conditions associated with exposure to hazardous materials and chemicals. The materials and subsequent disabilities vary by the time and nature of service, but may include:
- Radiation exposure among veterans who were involved in the testing of atmospheric nuclear weapons, were prisoners of war (POWs) in Japan during World War II, served in Nagasaki or Hiroshima after World War II, or worked in nuclear medicine or atomic energy during the course of military service. Presumptive conditions include most forms of leukemia and multiple types of cancer.
- Herbicide exposure; veterans of the Vietnam War may qualify for presumptive disability benefits if they were exposed to Agent Orange, an herbicide with a wide range of harmful health effects.
- Asbestos, a hazardous material that can result in chronic lung inflammation (asbestosis) and a cancer called mesothelioma affecting the lining of the lungs, heart, and/or stomach.
- Hazardous exposure linked to regions in the Southwest Asia Theater of Operations in the Gulf War: Presumptive conditions for veterans of the Gulf War include chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, functional gastrointestinal disorders, and various undiagnosed illnesses, provided the condition lasts a minimum of six months and has a disability rating of 10 percent or more by December 31, 2021.
- Hazardous exposure linked to military service in Afghanistan after September 2001: Both veterans on active duty in Afghanistan and Gulf War veterans who developed a disability rated 10 percent or more may qualify for presumptive disability benefits if they are diagnosed with malaria, shigella, West Nile virus, nontyphoid salmonella, brucellosis, Q fever, or campylobacteriosis diagnosed within 1 year of discharge. Qualifying veterans in these regions may also be eligible for presumptive disability benefits if they are diagnosed with mycobacterium tuberculosis or visceral leishmaniasis any time after their service.
- Carcinogenic drinking water contaminants at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station New River in North Carolina between August 1953 and December 1987, resulting in Parkinson’s disease, aplastic anemia, and multiple cancers.
- POWs may qualify for disability benefits if they suffer a service-connected disease that is rated 10 percent or more disabling. Presumptive conditions include:
- Psychiatric conditions, including anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), persistent depressive disorder, psychosis, etc.
- Heart disease
- Hypertensive vascular disease
- A stroke or issues associated with stroke
- Complications of frostbite
- Osteoporosis (depending on the length of captivity and the date that you filed your claim, a concurrent diagnosis of PTSD may be necessary to qualify for benefits)
- Veterans who were imprisoned for 30 days or more may qualify for disability benefits related to peripheral neuropathy; peptic ulcers; chronic dysentery; irritable bowel syndrome; liver cirrhosis; helminthiasis (worm infection); and nutritional deficiencies such as beriberi, pellagra, malnutrition and its associated effects, and avitaminosis
In spite of the multitude of presumptive conditions recognized by the VA, veterans with these conditions and disorders may struggle to get the disability benefits they need and deserve for their service to our country. If you or a loved one is applying for veterans’ disability benefits, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
How Do I Qualify for VA Presumptive Disability Benefits?
Being diagnosed with a presumptive condition does not automatically entitle you to veterans’ disability benefits. Rather, a presumptive condition simply relieves the obligation for veterans claiming benefits to prove that their illness is connected to their military service.
To file a veterans’ disability benefits claim, you will still need to provide supporting medical documentation, military service records, and other materials. Gathering all of the necessary documents on your own can be time-consuming. If your claim is incomplete, you may receive a request for more information from the VA, which can delay the decision on your benefits. Denial of your disability benefits claim is also possible.
A lawyer knowledgeable in veterans’ disability claims can assist you with all aspects of this complicated process. In addition, an attorney can advise you of the full range of benefits you may be entitled to as well as how changes in VA regulations may expand access to disability benefits.
For example, Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange may be eligible for disability benefits (even if a previous claim was denied) due to the agreement reached in Nehmer v. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In a Nehmer claim, veterans can retroactively qualify for disability benefits under the revised regulations the VA has instituted on conditions with a presumed service connection to Agent Orange exposure.
Contact a Veterans’ Disability Benefits Lawyer Today
If you are a veteran of the U.S. military and you suffered an injury or developed a health condition connected to your service, you may be entitled to disability benefits from the VA. The attorneys at Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter have extensive familiarity with the disability benefits claims process. We can review your medical and service records and advise you of your eligibility for presumptive disability benefits and more.
Please call (407) 712-7300 today for a free consultation. Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter is proud to serve veterans in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and throughout Florida.