Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Exposure And Parkinsons Disease
VA has established a list of presumptive conditions, including Parkinsons Disease, for service members that served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 cumulative days from August 1, 1953 through December 31, 1987. Therefore, Camp Lejeune veterans do not need to prove that their Parkinsons Disease is connected to their military service.
Service Connection Of The Veterans Parkinsons Disease Claim
By the way did you know that the Veterans Law Blog publishes the definitive guide for Veterans that want to prove these 4 pillars in their VA Claim? You can take a look at the 5+ hour Training Video here there is no other resource that has more information about HOW to prove the 4 Pillars of a VA Claim than this video.
Veterans with Parkinsons Disease must prove each of these 4 Pillars to prevail in their claim for service connection.
Typically, the 1st and 4th elements are the easiest to prove: eligibility and effective date. When it comes to proving Service Connection of a Veterans Parkinsons Disease, or establishing the impairment rating for that condition, the journey can be a little harder.
There are 5 Paths to Service Connection I encourage Veterans with Parkinsons Disease to use as many of the 5 Paths as they can.
A Veteran is not restricted to choosing only 1 path in their VA Claim.
If you would like to learn more about the 5 Paths to Service Connection as well as other information that isnt published anywhere else on the internet be sure to check out the 5 hr training video: How to Prove the 4 Pillars of a VA Service Connection claim.
Why Secondary Conditions Matter
A secondary condition can influence the disability rating that a Veteran receives from the VA. If a Veteran is suffering from mental or physical problems stemming from a service-related disability, these problems can lead to an increase in the disability rating that the Veteran receives from the VA. Although secondary conditions may not directly result from service-related events or injuries, if the VA can establish a connection between these problems and a service-related disability, secondary conditions can make a Veteran eligible to receive more benefits each month.
If you are suffering from a secondary condition in addition to your service-related disability, your disability rating from the VA could likely be higher than it currently is. If the VA has only assessed your initial disability and not factored in any secondary conditions, you may have received a lower rating than your condition warrants. Because secondary conditions can make life much more difficult for Veterans and were caused by military service, the VA recognizes secondary conditions as grounds for raising a disabled Veterans disability rating.
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Agent Orange & Parkinsons Disease
Agent Orange was used in chemical warfare during the Vietnam War. Since then, Vietnam veterans have developed a variety of symptoms related to Agent Orange exposureincluding Parkinsons Disease.
There is research that is starting to show exposure to certain chemicals do cause Parkinsons Disease, and some of those chemicals such as TCE and PCE have been found in the water of Camp Lejeune. There is also evidence that Agent Orange herbicide exposure causes Parkinsons, which the VA has now conceded. Parkinsons Disease is one of the presumptive conditions related to Agent Orange that the VA recognizes.
According to the Parkinsons Foundation, the main chemical in Agent Orange, called dioxin, is the main culprit in causing disease.
Agent Orange has also been linked to respiratory cancer, multiple myeloma, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, lymphoma, soft tissue sarcoma, and chronic b-cell leukemias. This service connection is particularly prevalent for Vietnam War veterans.
Parkinsons Ssdi Claim Based On A Reduced Residual Functional Capacity
If you cannot satisfy the guidelines of the SSAs medical listing for Parkinsonian, you have another option. You may qualify based on a reduced RFC.
Here you must prove that your condition has made it impossible to work consistently and earn a gainful living. SSA will base its decision on the evidence you provide, which can be very difficult at the initial application stage. You need to prove you cannot do your past relevant work and any other work. Adjudicators often find the claimants reported signs and symptoms of PD are not severe enough or are incomplete when filed without attorney representation.
You must be thorough and provide what SSA needs to see:
- A detailed history of your medical condition and functional abilities. This process is critical and involves your medical records, doctors statements, and further evidence that evaluates and shows your inability to work consistently.
- Evidence of various forms of limitations, such as postural, exertional, manipulative , visual, communicative, mental, and environmental.
- Your case strengthened by documenting all symptoms, carefully tracking worsening symptoms, describing problems with daily activities, including the testimony of family, friends, co-workers, and reporting prescriptions for any assistive devices as a Parkinsons patient.
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Hearing Loss With Or Without Tinnitus
Tinnitus and hearing loss are the #1 and #2 most commonly awarded conditions for Compensation. Tinnitus, by itself, connected to service is ratable at 10% disability. Tinnitus is a ringing or rushing or other sound only perceived by the individual and not by anyone else. Most people describe it as extremely high-pitched. Depending on the degree, it can be very disconcerting and interfere with normal functioning.
Generally, service-connected tinnitus should be persistent meaning it is present most of the time. This establishes it as chronic. Establishing service connection for tinnitus by itself is generally not that difficult. This is because there is no definitive test for this condition and VA must accept the word of the person that it exists.
Tinnitus at 10% as a combined rating is often awarded in combination with noise induced hearing loss which is typically rated at 0%. This is because tinnitus is a common symptom of noise induced hearing loss. The hearing loss is much easier to establish as a service connection because the condition can be recognized through testing and because it is well-known that certain noise exposure conditions will cause it. For most cases of hearing loss, you must have the tinnitus or you will only get a 0% rating. With the tinnitus you get 10% as a combined rating.
Parkinsons And Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury occurs when brain function is disrupted by a traumatic event such as an IED blast, gunshot, car accident, etc. There has been a substantial increase in TBIs among service members since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The VA diagnoses a TBI as mild, moderate, or severe based on the severity of their symptoms.
If Parkinsons Disease develops at any point following a moderate or severe TBI, the veteran will be presumptively service-connected for it.
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Secondary Service Connection Explicitly Listed In Regulation
Some commenters suggest that the proposed regulation should include secondary conditions that result from disabilities presumptively service connected due to certain herbicide exposure. The commenters note that VA published a proposed rule establishing presumptive service connection for nine specific infectious diseases associated with military service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations and that the proposed rule listed secondary conditions potentially caused by those infectious diseases. -13058 . Furthermore, the commenters stated that when VA grants service connection for a primary disease, all secondary conditions proximately caused by that disease are also service connected. .
As the commenters correctly note, pursuant to , when VA grants service connection for a condition, all conditions proximately caused by that condition may also be service connected. This principle would apply to conditions where service connection is established by presumption or by other means, such as a direct link to incurrence during military service.
Consequently, VA makes no change based on these comments.
What Is A Secondary Condition According To The Va
If a Veteran is suffering from a physical or psychological disability, this condition can have a massive negative impact on their life. Disabilities can interfere with a Veterans ability to work, maintain a healthy social life and relationships, and go through life normally. Because disabilities, both physical and mental, have such a significant effect, the Department of Veterans Affairs seeks to provide disabled veterans with tax-free benefits. These benefits can make a massive difference, helping a disabled Veterans remain financially stable and allowing them to take care of their loved ones and themselves.
The VA grants disability benefits to Veterans suffering from service-related disabilities physical and mental problems that are directly linked to an event or injury that happened during a Veterans time in the military. However, the VA also acknowledges that a Veterans disability can give way to other issues, which may not be directly service-related. The VA refers to these problems as secondary conditions.
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Risk Factors For Vets
There are a few factors that can increase your risk of developing Parkinsons disease. First among these is age young people rarely develop Parkinsons Disease. The disease generally starts presenting in middle age, around 60 or so, and gets worse as you age.
If you have a history of Parkinsons in your family, you may be at greater risk of developing the disease. Men are more likely than women to develop Parkinsons, with more than 63 percent of Parkinsons patients being men. People who have been exposed to herbicides and pesticides, including Agent Orange, are also at greater risk.
There is still research ongoing about links to Parkinsons and burn pits and Gulf War syndrome. The important thing about getting your VA disability application in is that sometimes new discoveries only apply to people that get their applications in before a certain date or policy change.
Parkinsons Disease might just be part of your VA disability claim if you were near burn pits during your service. Here is a video detailing burn pit claims.
A Lawyer Experienced In Disability Insurance Laws And Parkinsons Disease Can Provide The Support You Need
Group LTD claims fall under federal ERISA law. When a group claim is denied, the information you present in your appeal to the insurance company will also be the basis for a potential lawsuit against the insurance company. An experienced ERISA lawyer is essential to your case.
In a private disability benefits claim denial based on Parkinsons disease, state contract and bad faith laws prevail. In each case, our experienced attorneys are prepared to review your claim, explain your legal options, and help you get the compensation you deserve.
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Factors Outside Of General Requirements
Outside of the general requirements to qualify for VA disability benefits in the first place, there are several factors the VA looks at.
These factors, taken as a whole, dictate the compensation rating you will receive. The benefits are distributed using a rate between 0% and 100% at 10% increments.
The VA uses a complex formula to make their determination. You can find the relevant factors . Still, here are some of the more notable factors that can increase your disability rating if applicable:
- If you are suffering from more than one disability at the same time
- If your Parkinsons disease worsens
- The way and degree to which Parkinsons is impeding your life and ability to work
- Your age
- Changes in Social Security benefits to counter inflation
- If you have children, a spouse, and other dependents
- If your spouse or dependents have a disability and
- If you lose a limb or the ability to use a bodily function .
All of those factors will impact your VA disability compensation rating. After your initial rating, you can periodically apply to increase your rating.
Similarly, there are some circumstances in which the VA can lower your rating. Typically, rate reductions dont apply to Parkinsons disease claims because Parkinsons worsens over time. Still, it is something you should be aware of.
What Is The Musculoskeletal System For Va Rating Purposes
Your musculoskeletal system includes your bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissues. Your skeleton is the foundational structure for your muscles and other soft tissues. All these parts work together to support your body weight, maintain your posture, and help you move.
Below is a complete list of VA disabilities for the musculoskeletal system, listed in order by Diagnostic Code from CFR Title 38, Part 4, the Schedule for Rating Disabilities.
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Clear Cell Sarcoma Of Tendons And Aponeuroses Dc 5329
Clear cell sarcoma of soft tissue is a rare type of cancer primarily affecting young adults between 20 to 40 years old.
Clear cell sarcoma tumors tend to grow attached to tendons in the limbs, especially in the feet and hands.
They also sometimes develop in the gastrointestinal tract, attached with the bottom layers of the skin, and in locations throughout the torso.
Medical research has found evidence of a positive association between Clear cell sarcoma of tendons and aponeuroses and exposure to Agent Orange.
The VA rates Clear cell sarcoma of tendons and aponeuroses under CFR 38, Part 4, VA Schedule of Ratings, Diagnostic Code 5329, Sarcoma, soft tissue .
The VA rating for Clear cell sarcoma of tendons and aponeuroses due to Agent Orange is 100 percent.
What is the VA rating for Clear cell sarcoma of tendons and aponeuroses cancer due to Agent Orange exposure?
- Clear cell sarcoma of tendons and aponeuroses, soft tissue cancer rate at 100%.
Medical Research: The Health and Medicine Division of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded in its 1994 report Veterans and Agent Orange: Health Effects of Herbicides Used in Vietnam and other updates that there is evidence of a positive association between exposure to herbicides used in Vietnam and soft tissue sarcomas.
Rate Those Ascertainable Residuals Separately
Each objectively verified residual of Parkinsons Disease are then rated separately.
Using VA Math, the Ratings are then combined with the 30% rating to yield an overall rating.
This is something that most Veterans dont know about how the VA Rates Parkinsons disease. You can dramatically affect the rating you receive by including a lot of lay evidence of these observable symptoms in your claim.
Lay Evidence is the magic bullet in VA Claims, and if you dont know how to submit competent and credible Lay Evidence in your VA Claim, then you are missing out on a powerful tool.
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Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma Dc 5329
Malignant fibrous histiocytoma is a type of cancer that usually forms in the soft tissue, but it may also form in bone.
It can occur anywhere in the body, but it usually occurs in the legs , arms, or back of the abdomen.
Medical research has found evidence of a positive association between Malignant fibrous histiocytoma and exposure to Agent Orange.
The VA rates Malignant fibrous histiocytoma under CFR 38, Part 4, VA Schedule of Ratings, Diagnostic Code 5329, Sarcoma, soft tissue .
The VA rating for Malignant fibrous histiocytoma due to Agent Orange is 100 percent.
What is the VA rating for Malignant fibrous histiocytoma cancer due to Agent Orange exposure?
- Malignant fibrous histiocytoma, soft tissue cancer rate at 100%.
Note: A rating of 100 percent shall continue beyond the cessation of any surgery, radiation treatment, antineoplastic chemotherapy, or other therapeutic procedures. Six months after discontinuance of such treatment, the appropriate disability rating shall be determined by mandatory VA examination. Any change in evaluation based upon that or any subsequent examination shall be subject to the provisions of § 3.105. If there has been no local recurrence or metastasis of Malignant fibrous histiocytoma, rate on residual impairment of function.
Adult Fibrosarcoma Dc 5329
Fibrous soft tissue is a connective tissue that connects various parts of your body.
For example, your tendons attach muscles to bones your ligaments attach bones-to-bones.
Medical research has found evidence of a positive association between Adult fibrosarcoma and exposure to Agent Orange.
The VA rates Adult fibrosarcoma under CFR 38, Part 4, VA Schedule of Ratings, Diagnostic Code 5329, Sarcoma, soft tissue .
The VA rating for Adult fibrosarcoma due to Agent Orange is 100 percent.
What is the VA rating for Adult fibrosarcoma cancer due to Agent Orange exposure?
- Adult fibrosarcoma, soft tissue cancer rate at 100%.
Note: A rating of 100 percent shall continue beyond the cessation of any surgery, radiation treatment, antineoplastic chemotherapy, or other therapeutic procedures. Six months after discontinuance of such treatment, the appropriate disability rating shall be determined by mandatory VA examination. Any change in evaluation based upon that or any subsequent examination shall be subject to the provisions of § 3.105. If there has been no local recurrence or metastasis of Adult fibrosarcoma, rate on residual impairment of function.
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Some General Notes On Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons disease is a neurodegenerative disorder. That means that it adversely affects your brain.
Specifically, Parkinsons disease impairs your brains ability to produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine affects everything from movement and balance to concentration and mood.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Parkinsons disease at this time. Thus, it makes sense that Parkinsons disease qualifies as a disability in the eyes of the federal government.
The Department of Veterans Affairs , the Social Security Administration , and the U.S. Department of Labor all consider Parkinsons disease a covered disability under their respective programs.
Hodgkins Disease Dc 7709
Hodgkins lymphoma is a form of cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which is part of the bodys germ-fighting immune system.
In Hodgkins lymphoma, white blood cells called lymphocytes grow out of control, causing swollen lymph nodes and growths throughout the body.
Hodgkins disease has been linked directly to Agent Orange exposure.
The VA rates Hodgkins disease under CFR Title 38, Part 4, Schedule for Rating Disabilities, DC 7709, Hodgkins Lymphoma.
What is the VA rating for Hodgkins Lymphoma due to Agent Orange?
The VA assigns a 100 percent VA rating for Hodgkins lymphoma with active disease or during a treatment phase.
Note: A 100 percent rating for Hodgkins lymphoma shall continue beyond the cessation of any surgical therapy, radiation therapy, antineoplastic chemotherapy, or other therapeutic procedures. Six months after discontinuance of such treatment, the appropriate disability rating shall be determined by mandatory VA examination. Any reduction in evaluation based upon that or any subsequent examination shall be subject to the provisions of § 3.105. If there has been no local recurrence or metastasis, rate on residuals under the appropriate diagnostic code.
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