Presumptive Conditions for Disability Compensation
In a presumptive case you just have to show the record reflects that the veteran was at the right (or wrong) place at the
right time. So, for Vietnam vets - they were in Vietnam for 24 hours during the time agent orange was used. In Korea, at
the DMZ for the time period between 68 - 69 when agent orange was used, etc.
Are there specific things for vision? I think we are at a point where a WW2 POW could apply for anything. So a vet with
Age Related Macular Degeneration could state they suffered from avitamintosis and say it affected their Age Related
Macular Degeneration. I do not think there is a clinical proof of that, but I also think at this stage of the ballgame a 90 year
old survivor of Bataan would probably be granted service connection. Usually the POWs from the Pacific have so many
things wrong with them that they do not have to scrounge around for Service Connections. The European Theater POWs
were not under as harsh conditions, we have one who was a very successful lawyer and has some psychological quirks
that could be presumptive back to his POW days. He refuses to file. Money is not a concern and as a POW he has full
access to service, it just is not an issue...
So what do you walk away with from this? You need to be aware of certain category of veterans and that they have
special things linked to them as far as claims and potentially in the case of POWs services within the VA.
Now, the errors - the window on Gulf War 1 has been extended 5 years, this happened at the end of 2006. Second, there
are a number of sites where agent orange was used and the list in not finalized. The current list can be found on the
Agent Orange Homepage (the link for this). This includes sites outside of the time period given in what I have provided
below. Also, there are service connections for the children of these vets if they have disorders such as Spina Bifida.
Finally, for vets from Gulf War 1, if you are diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) you are automatically accelerated
to 100% from the diagnosis. Life expectancy with this is very short, so...
Presumptive Conditions for Disability Compensation
Certain veterans are eligible for disability compensation based on the presumption that their disability is service
Prisoners of War: For former prisoners of war (POW) who were imprisoned for any length of time, the following disabilities
are presumed to be service-connected if they are rated at least 10 percent disabling anytime after military service:
psychosis, any of the anxiety states, dysthymic disorder, organic residuals of frostbite, post-traumatic osteoarthritis, heart
disease or hypertensive vascular disease and their complications, stroke and residuals of stroke.
For former POWs who were imprisoned for at least 30 days, the following conditions are also presumed to be service-
connected: avitaminosis, beriberi, chronic dysentery, helminthiasis, malnutrition (including optic atrophy), pellagra and/or
other nutritional deficiencies, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcer disease, peripheral neuropathy and cirrhosis of the
Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange and Other Herbicides: A veteran who served in the Republic of Vietnam between Jan.
9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, is presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides used in support of
Eleven diseases are presumed by VA to be service-connected for such veterans: chloracne or other acneform disease
similar to chloracne, porphyria cutanea tarda, soft-tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi's
sarcoma or mesothelioma), Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma, respiratory cancers (lung, bronchus, larynx, trachea),
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, prostate cancer, acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy, diabetes mellitus (Type 2) and
chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Veterans Exposed to Radiation: For veterans exposed to ionizing radiation while on active duty, the following conditions
are presumed to be service-connected: all forms of leukemia (except for chronic lymphocytic leukemia); cancer of the
thyroid, breast, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, bile ducts, gall bladder, salivary gland, urinary
tract (renal, pelvis, ureter, urinary bladder and urethra), brain, bone, lung, colon, and ovary, bronchiolo-alveolar
carcinoma, multiple myeloma, lymphomas (other than Hodgkin's disease), and primary liver cancer (except if cirrhosis or
hepatitis B is indicated).
To determine service-connection for other conditions or exposures not eligible for presumptive service-connection, VA
considers factors such as the amount of radiation exposure, duration of exposure, elapsed time between exposure and
onset of the disease, gender and family history, age at time of exposure, the extent to which a non service-related
exposure could contribute to disease, and the relative sensitivity of exposed tissue.
Gulf War Veterans: Gulf War veterans may receive disability compensation for chronic disabilities resulting from
undiagnosed illnesses, medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illnesses defined by a cluster of signs or symptoms
such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome and any diagnosed illness that the Secretary
of Veterans Affairs determines warrants a presumption of service-connection.
A disability is considered chronic if it has existed for at least six months. The undiagnosed illnesses must have appeared
either during active service in the Southwest Asia Theater of Operations during the Gulf War or to a degree of at least 10
percent at any time since then through Dec. 31, 2006.
The following are examples of symptoms of an undiagnosed illness: fatigue, skin disorders, headache, muscle pain, joint
pain, neurological symptoms, neuropsychological symptoms, symptoms involving the respiratory system, sleep
disturbances, gastrointestinal symptoms, cardiovascular symptoms, abnormal weight loss and menstrual disorders.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) may also be service-connected if the veteran served in the Southwest Asia Theater
of Operations anytime during the period of Aug. 2, 1990, to July 31, 1991.