Potential Additions to the Agent Orange Presumptive Condition List

The potential side effects of Agent Orange exposure have been widely studied. However, lawmakers believe the VA may be incorrectly keeping some illnesses off the presumptive conditions list for Agent Orange exposure. An amendment proposed by Rep. Josh Harder, D-California, and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, House Amendment 264, would add three conditions to the VA’s presumptive list.

What is a Presumptive Condition?

To understand what the addition of these conditions could mean for your claim, you must first understand what a presumptive condition is. Basically, exposure to certain things in the military are likely to lead to disabilities later in life.

For example, contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune could lead to many forms of cancer. Since these cancers are so prominent among Veterans exposed to the drinking water at Camp Lejeune, the VA presumes they were caused by service. Similarly, the VA lists a variety of presumptive illnesses related to Agent Orange exposure. This means Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange will have to prove less to get their condition service connected.

Normally, a Veteran needs to prove three things to establish service connection:

  • A current, medically diagnosed disability
  • An in-service event that caused the disability
  • A nexus letter linking the event to the current disability

However, Veterans with presumptive conditions for Agent Orange need to only prove two elements:

  • A current, medically diagnosed disability
  • Proof that they were exposed to Agent Orange in service

What are the Current Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions?

Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and are now dealing with certain diseases are eligible for disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Because illnesses related to Agent Orange exposure are so common, the VA lists the following disabilities as presumptive conditions:

  • Chronic B-cell leukemia
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Prostate cancer
  • Respiratory cancers
  • Soft tissue sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma)

Possible Additions to the Agent Orange Presumptive List

The proposed amendment would make additions to the list above. If passed, the following would be considered presumptive conditions for Agent Orange exposure:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Parkinsonism

A 2016 study conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) linked bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism to Agent Orange exposure. However, unlike the study conducted by the NASEM, the amendment fails to list hypertension (high blood pressure) as a presumptive condition. A decision on adding the three diseases to the presumptive list has been delayed since 2017.

Veterans Disability Attorneys

The team of attorneys and Veterans advocates at Berry Law are dedicated to helping fellow Veterans get the disability compensation they are entitled to. If you applied for disability benefits related to Agent Orange exposure and you were denied or given a lower than expected rating, Berry Law can help you appeal.

If you have one of the possible presumptive conditions and you need assistance appealing your VA decision, the Veterans on our team can help. Contact Berry Law today to schedule a free case evaluation.