The Full VA Presumptive Conditions List for Burn Pits for 2022

The Full VA Presumptive Conditions List for Burn Pits for 2022

Burn pits have caused many chronic medical problems for America’s Veterans. By exposing Veterans to toxic substances, burn pits have caused conditions such as bronchitis, sinusitis, and asthma. 

Because of the hazards associated with burn pit exposure, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has recently expanded its presumptive conditions list to include three new ailments.

If you’re a Veteran seeking disability benefits following burn pit exposure, it may now be easier to receive compensation. Today, let’s explore the full VA presumptive conditions list for burn pits for 2022.

What Are Burn Pits?

The US military used open-air waste combustion sites called burn pits for decades in the past. After 2001, the military used many burn pits in the Middle East during military operations in Qatar, Djibouti, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.

The Department of Defense (DoD) has since closed the majority of these open-air burn pits, largely due to the airborne hazards that caused negative health effects such as respiratory conditions.

Burn pits were open ground where the US military could dispose of on-site waste products. These products included:

  • Aluminum cans
  • Petroleum and other lubricants
  • Plastics and rubber
  • Particulate matter
  • Paint
  • Various metals
  • Wood
  • Chemicals
  • Human waste and medical waste

When burned, these materials released various compounds into the air, which eventually affected service members due to toxic exposure. Over time, professionals medically linked burn pits to damage or injuries to:

  • The eyes, mouth, and ears
  • Skin
  • The gastrointestinal tract
  • Internal organs
  • The cardiovascular and respiratory systems
  • And more

Burn pits have affected numerous Veterans. Though burn pits are no longer in operation, their ramifications still seriously impact US Veterans through chronic health conditions.

What Are Presumptive Conditions?

Presumptive conditions are medical conditions linked to a Veteran’s military service. Being in the military exposes service personnel to combat hazards, workplace hazards, and toxic hazards, all of which can have serious health consequences.

For instance, hearing loss is sometimes considered a presumptive condition for Veterans who work on the flight decks of aircraft carriers. Since the Veterans in question are exposed to loud noises during their workdays, it’s logical that exposure caused their hearing damage.

In another example, Agent Orange exposure likely caused presumptive conditions in the form of medical issues or illnesses that develop over time. Several studies have shown medical links between Agent Orange exposure and certain medical conditions.

Presumptive service conditions allow Veterans to receive disability benefits without proving a military connection, unlike many other benefits applications. If a Veteran is diagnosed with a presumptive condition, they could be eligible for VA benefits much more quickly.

Furthermore, each group of presumptive conditions contains various secondary service-related disabilities. These may warrant extra compensation from VA disability benefits.

What Are Presumptive Conditions for Burn Pit Victims?

Military Veterans who worked near or around burn pits may suffer from various presumptive conditions. According to VA studies, Veterans who stood close to burn pit smoke or were exposed to burn pits for longer periods are at a higher risk of experiencing negative effects or developing presumptive conditions.

As of August 2021, the VA officially recognizes three new presumptive conditions for burn pit victims: asthma, sinusitis, and rhinitis.

Asthma Caused by Burned Pits

The VA categorizes asthma following burn pit exposure under diagnostic code 6602. Asthma is a condition in which swelling bronchi in the lungs or swelling airways make it difficult to breathe.

Military Veterans with asthma must take a test. Unfortunately, the test has to be run while an asthma attack is underway, so it’s difficult to define and measure accurately. Once measured, a Veteran may receive a disability rating between 10% and 100% total disability.  

Furthermore, Veterans with asthma may receive additional benefits if they have qualifying secondary disabilities like acid reflux disease or sleep apnea.

Sinusitis Caused by Burn Pits

Sinusitis occurs when the tissue lining of the sinuses becomes inflamed or swollen. Its symptoms include ear pain, headaches, fatigue, sore throat, and runny nose — and it may also cause secondary disabilities such as bronchitis, laryngitis, and sleep apnea.

The VA assigned sinusitis diagnostic codes 6510 through 6514. Veterans may receive a disability rating between 10% and 50%, depending on their symptoms and how many incapacitating episodes of sinusitis they experience annually.

Rhinitis Caused by Burn Pits

Rhinitis is the inflammation of mucous membranes inside the nose. Viral infections or allergic reactions such as hay fever frequently cause rhinitis. This reaction causes symptoms including runny nose, sneezing, itching, and congestion. Rhinitis has three diagnostic codes:

  • Diagnostic code 6522 for allergic or vasomotor rhinitis. This code could lead to a disability rating between 10% and 30%
  • Diagnostic code 6523 or bacterial rhinitis. This code could lead to a disability rating between 10% and 50%
  • Diagnostic code 6524 or granulomatous rhinitis. This code could lead to a disability rating between 20% and 100%

Like other presumptive conditions for burn pits, rhinitis may qualify Veterans for additional benefits through secondary disabilities like asthma, sinusitis, and sleep apnea.

Will Other Conditions Become Presumptive Conditions?

Other conditions may become presumptive conditions in the future. Congress has not yet passed the Veterans’ Right to Breathe Act. However, this act may add several other illnesses to the list of presumptive conditions related to burn pit exposure if the Senate passes it in the future. 

These conditions may eventually include:

  • Lung cancer
  • Pneumonia
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • COPD
  • Chronic bronchitis and constrictive bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Granulomatous disease

If this bill is passed, it will remove the need for Veterans to prove a direct connection between their condition and their Agent Orange exposure. Receiving disability benefits would then be much easier for these Veterans.

For now, Veterans exposed to burn pit toxins may only claim asthma, sinusitis, or rhinitis as presumptive conditions for their benefits claims. As mentioned above, the VA may add additional conditions to this list in the future.

If you believe you were exposed to toxins or burn pits during your service, joining the VA Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry may be wise. This registry allows you to provide information to the VA about your burn pit experiences and potential symptoms beyond the three presumptive conditions currently recognized by the VA.

This will increase medical knowledge about burn pit exposure and the potential side effects or symptoms they may cause. You don’t have to participate in the registry to receive VA healthcare benefits or file a benefits claim.

Furthermore, participating in the registry doesn’t negatively affect your ability to receive disability benefits or file a claim. Still, it may accelerate the VA listing other conditions as “presumptive” for yourself or other Veterans.

How To Know Whether You Qualify for Compensation?

At the time of this writing, Veterans may be eligible for presumptive conditions or burn pit exposure benefits if they:

  • Served in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Uzbekistan, or Syria during the Persian Gulf War from September 19, 2021, to the present
  • Served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations from August 2, 1990, to the present

The VA added these qualifications in August 2021 alongside the three presumptive conditions linked to burn pit exposure. Furthermore, Veterans must have sustained one of these conditions within 10 years of separation from active duty to be eligible for VA benefits related to burn pit exposure.

The best way to ensure you qualify for disability compensation is to contact knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys like Berry Law. Veterans law lawyers can work with you when filing an initial disability benefits application, reversing a denied benefits claim, and exploring the Veterans benefits your presumptive condition may grant you.

Contact Berry Law Today

As you can see, the legal situation surrounding presumptive conditions for burn pit exposure is always evolving. It can be tough to maximize your deserved benefits after military service.

Ultimately, you should contact Berry Law if you’re a Veteran who served in Afghanistan or anywhere burn pits were present. With our assistance, you can receive disability benefits to compensate you for asthma, rhinitis, and other primary or secondary conditions.

Have you already applied for benefits with the VA? Berry Law can guide you through the appeals process to overturn a denial. With our help, you’ll receive the benefits you deserve to help cover your medical costs and more.

Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation.


Airborne Hazards and Burn Pit Exposures | Public Health

Veterans’ Right to Breathe Act | Congress

10 Things To Know About Burn Pits | VA 

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law Firm are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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