VA Disability Claim for Toxic and Chemical Exposure

At Bartlett Legal Group, we understand the complexities and challenges that veterans face when seeking VA disability benefits for toxic exposure. Our dedicated team specializes in guiding veterans through the process of filing a toxic exposure VA claim. We want to ensure you receive the compensation you rightfully deserve. 

With our expertise and commitment to advocating for veterans’ rights, we strive to provide comprehensive support and representation every step of the way. Learn more about how the VA disability claims attorneys at Bartlett Legal Group can assist you in navigating the intricacies of toxic exposure VA claims. You can schedule a free consultation with us by calling (850) 332-6434 or submitting an online contact form.

Military personnel suffering from toxic chemical exposure while serving overseas walking in the desert

Understanding Toxic and Chemical Exposure

Toxic and chemical exposure refers to the contact or ingestion of harmful substances that can negatively impact the health of service members. This exposure can occur through various routes such as inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion of contaminated food or water.

Military personnel are often exposed to toxic substances through activities such as handling solvents, fuels, pesticides, and cleaning agents. Additionally, environmental factors like burn pits, industrial chemicals, and battlefield pollutants can contribute to exposure risks.

Most veterans encounter a range of chemicals and toxins during service. This can include  Agent Orange (herbicide used during the Vietnam War), depleted uranium (common in some ammunition), asbestos (found in older military buildings), and lead (from firing ranges). 

These substances are linked to various health issues such as respiratory problems, cancers, neurological disorders, and skin conditions among veterans. If you or a loved one is battling a mental or physical health condition caused by exposure to chemicals and toxins during military service, VA-accredited lawyers at Bartlett Legal Group can help you make a VA disability claim for chemical exposure. 

Toxic Exposure VA Disability Claims

Chemical and toxic exposure form a bulk of the disability claims filed with the VA. If you or a loved one continues to suffer from toxic and chemical exposure during their time in military service, you are entitled to fair and adequate compensation and support from the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

More often than not, the VA will attempt to shift the blame away from military service. However, studies show a clear connection between service-related toxic exposures and the development of health conditions like cancer. 

Let Bartlett Legal Group help you file your toxic exposure claim to increase your chance of getting the compensation, healthcare, and benefits you deserve. Getting the help of an accredited veterans disability law firm like ours can offer a wealth of benefits when making claims and appealing VA claim denials

Our VA disability claims attorneys know how to get your claims accepted, what evidence is critical, the right steps and procedures to expedite the process, and the ins and outs of the VA system. 

The PACT Act Acknowledges Service-Related Toxic Exposure 

The Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics, simply known as the PACT Act, is a new law that seeks to expand VA benefits for veterans who have been exposed to Agent Orange, burn pits, and other toxic substances during service. The new legislation champions support for different generations of veterans and their survivors with care, benefits, and monetary compensation. 

The US Department of Veterans Affairs announced that starting March 5, 2024, it was expanding VA healthcare to millions of veterans, far beyond the years called for by the PACT Act. According to a recent White House statement release, President Biden announced one million PACT Act claims approved and benefits delivered to veterans across all 50 states. 

Gulf War Veterans 

For veterans of the Gulf War era, provisions under the PACT Act offer access to VA healthcare and compensation benefits. This is contingent upon them meeting specific service qualifications that demonstrate exposure to particulate toxic compounds and the subsequent development of certain diseases post-service.

Qualifying Service

Qualifying service criteria for Gulf War-era veterans include actively serving in specified countries during or after the Gulf War (from Aug. 2, 1990), such as Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Somalis, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, or Qatar. 

Your service is also considered as qualifying if you, served in Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt, Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Djibouti, or Uzbekistan after the commencement of the Global War on Terrorism (after Sept. 11, 2001). 

Recognized Health Conditions for Gulf War Service

Several cancers and diseases are now considered presumptive of Gulf War qualifying service. This encompasses conditions like brain cancer, respiratory cancer, lymphatic cancer, asthma, kidney cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, reproductive cancer of any type, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), obliterative bronchiolitis or constrictive bronchiolitis, melanoma, rhinitis, sinusitis, neck cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, glioblastoma, and sarcoidosis among other medical conditions. 

Additionally, VA benefits may be awarded when veterans exhibit objective indications of a medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illness (MUCMI). MUCMI is characterized by a combination of symptoms such as chronic fatigue, functional gastrointestinal disorders, and fibromyalgia.

Examples of such medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illnesses include irritable bowel syndrome, functional vomiting, functional dyspepsia, functional constipation, functional abdominal pain syndrome, functional bloating, and functional dysphagia.

Vietnam Veterans 

Vietnam Era Veterans are eligible for VA healthcare and compensation benefits under the PACT Act if they have engaged in qualifying covered service that demonstrates exposure to herbicides like Agent Orange and subsequently developed specified diseases post-service.

Covered service for Vietnam-era veterans encompasses active duty in war zones including:

The Republic of Vietnam from January 9, 1962, to May 7, 1975; 

Laos from December 14, 1965, to Sept. 30, 1969; 

Thailand at any Thai Royal or U.S. bases from January 9, 1962, to June 30, 1976 ;

The Korean Demilitarized Zone from April 1, 1968, to Aug. 31, 1971;

Johnston Atoil from January 1, 1972 to September 30, 1977;

American Samoa or Guam from January 9 1962 to July 31, 1980; and 

Cambodia at the Kampong Cham Province, Krek, or Mimot from April 16, 1962, to April 30, 1969;

Air Force veterans who regularly operated, served aboard or maintained a C-123 aircraft known to have been used for spraying herbicides. 

The PACT Act has identified hypertension and Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance as among specified diseases for Vietnam-era veterans eligible for benefits under these provisions. Veterans of the Vietnam War may also pursue secondary condition claims if one of their service-connected conditions leads to other medical issues.

Radiation-Exposed Veterans 

The PACT Act extended eligibility for service-connection radiation exposure to veterans exposed to nuclear and radiation by including onsite engagement in specific radiation-risk activities such as:

Participating in the cleanup at Enewetak Atoll from January 1, 1977, to December 31, 1980.

Involvement in the response effort in Palomares, Spain, from January 17, 1966, to March 31, 1967.

Engaging in the response effort in Thule, Greenland, from January 21, 1968, to September 25, 1968.

Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water

Over a span of more than thirty years, individuals at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, including service members, military families, and civilians, were exposed to contaminated drinking water associated with long-lasting health implications. 

Contained within the PACT Act is a specific provision known as the “Camp Lejeune Justice Act” (CLJA). This component marks a historic milestone in the United States. The CLJA it uniformly waived governmental immunity and liability regarding legal actions related to severe illnesses and conditions resulting from exposure to toxic water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

Researcher holding a test tube of Camp Lejeune water polluted with toxic chemicals

A Summary of Changes Introduced by the PACT Act

The PACT Act is poised to introduce the following advancements for toxic exposure VA claims:

Enhancing and prolonging access to VA health care services for Veterans exposed to toxins and those from the Gulf War, Vietnam, and post-9/11 eras.

Introducing over 20 new presumptive conditions concerning Agent Orange, burn pits, and other harmful exposures.

Expanding the list of presumptive-exposure sites associated with Agent Orange and radiation.

Mandating the VA to conduct toxic exposure screenings for all Veterans under VA health care.

Elevating the VA’s efforts in research, staff training, and treatment avenues for issues related to veteran toxic exposures.

If you are a Veteran or survivor, you now have the opportunity to initiate a VA disability claim for chemical exposure under the PACT Act. The veteran disability appeals attorneys of Bartlett Legal Group can help you build a strong case for compensation by rectifying minor errors in your claim, gathering evidence to establish your eligibility, preparing you to secure an accurate VA disability rating in your C&P exam, and much more.

What It Means To Have a Presumptive Condition for Toxic Exposure 

Understanding presumptive conditions for toxic exposure is critical because it ties closely to VA disability ratings. Typically, to receive a disability rating, you must demonstrate a direct link between your military service and your health issue.

However, in the case of presumptive conditions, there is an automatic assumption that your military service is the cause of the condition. These conditions are termed “presumptive” and are established by law or regulation.

Having a presumptive condition removes the need to prove the direct causation of your condition by your service. Instead, you only have to fulfill the specific service criteria outlined for the presumption to apply. A presumptive condition can be a physical or mental health issue

How Bartlett Legal Group’s VA Toxic Exposure Claims Lawyers Can Help

When dealing with a toxic exposure VA claim, a seasoned VA claims attorney from Bartlett Legal Group can be instrumental in your pursuit of benefits. Our skilled VA attorneys have a deep understanding of the VA system and can efficiently navigate the intricacies of filing a successful claim for toxic exposure-related conditions. 

We will work diligently to gather essential evidence, advocate on your behalf, and ensure that your claim is presented comprehensively and persuasively. By leveraging our expertise, you increase the likelihood of a positive outcome in your VA claim for toxic exposure.

For expert guidance and support with your toxic exposure VA claim, contact Bartlett Legal Group today. Call us at (850) 332-6434 or submit this contact form to book your free consultation. Let our experienced VA disability claims lawyers champion your case and help you secure the benefits you deserve.

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We are veterans, spouses, and family members of veterans. We know exactly what you are going through. Let our compassionate, skilled team help you!