VA: Rare Cancers Added to Disability List
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) added nine respiratory cancers to a list of presumptive conditions leading to service-connected disabilities. These cancers are rare and would likely stem from toxic military exposures like burn pits.
The 9 Rare Cancers
The following respiratory cancers have been added to the VA’s list of presumptive conditions:
- Squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx
- Squamous cell carcinoma of the trachea
- Adenocarcinoma of the trachea
- 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
After reviewing scientific and medical evidence, the VA determined that there was a plausible connection between the airborne hazards faced by our troops and the development of these cancers in the respiratory system.
This is a relief to veterans who were asked to “prove” the cancer they had came from their military service. Especially those deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 20 years.
“Last year we made promises to fundamentally change and improve how we establish and expedite presumptions,” declared VA Secretary McDonough in a press release. “We are taking a new approach to presumptives that takes all available science into account, with one goal in mind – getting today’s Veterans – and Vets in the decades ahead – the benefits they deserve as fast as possible.”
What Happens Next?
Effective immediately, the VA will process disability compensation claims for Veterans who served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations from August 2, 1990 to the present day. The VA will also process claims for any Veterans who served in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Syria, or Djibouti from September 19, 2001 to the present day.
Furthermore, any Veteran who has or has had any of the listed respiratory cancers during or after their military service are probably eligible for disability compensation benefits. The VA is supposed to reach out to those Veterans who have any of these conditions in their medical record.
First, any Veterans, survivors, or dependents whose disability claims were previously denied for any of these respiratory cancers, the VA encourages you to file a supplemental claim to obtain those benefits.
Next, for Veterans, survivors, or dependents applying for disability claims against these presumptive cancers, you should file a new claim.
For more information, read the final ruling of the Presumptive Service Connection for Rare Respiratory Cancers Due to Exposure of Fine Particulate Matter.
About the author
Robert Haynes is a retired Army infantryman who has a squad of kids and is married to an active duty Soldier. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, who spent his last few years in the Army as a Drill Sergeant. He is now a full-time dad, freelance writer, and out-of-work comedian.