Veterans who are dealing with hypothyroidism due to Agent Orange exposure have an easier path to service connection for the condition due to a recent bill passed by Congress. The bill, the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), adds hypothyroidism (along with two other conditions) to the Agent Orange presumptive condition list.
While Congress added hypothyroidism to the VA presumptive condition list in 2021, the VA will still need to implement these changes through regulations for Veterans to begin receiving presumptive service connection for the condition.
By adding hypothyroidism to the presumptive condition list, it lessens the amount of evidence a Veteran will need to provide the VA to receive VA compensation for hypothyroidism.
If you are currently dealing with hypothyroidism due to Agent Orange exposure, Berry Law can help you get the disability benefits you deserve. Contact Berry Law today to schedule a free case evaluation.
What is Hypothyroidism?
According to Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit academic research center, hypothyroidism is caused when your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones. They thyroid produces two hormones:
- Triiodothyronine (T3)
- Thyroxine (T4)
When someone develops hypothyroidism, their thyroid fails to produce enough of the hormones above to stay healthy.
Hyperthyroidism can be detrimental to a Veterans health if it goes untreated. Typically, hypothyroidism may not be noticeable in the early stages as the symptoms are not prevalent. Over time, these symptoms become worse and can lead to several different health problems.
The symptoms associated with hypothyroidism can vary from person to person depending on the severity of the hormone deficiency. According to Mayo Clinic, hypothyroidism signs and symptoms include:
- Dry skin
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Unexplained weight gain
- Swollen or puffy face
- Weakness of muscles
- High cholesterol levels
- Muscle aches
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Thinning hair
- Impaired memory
- Enlarged thyroid
- Slowed hear rate
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with a medical professional.
What Causes Hypothyroidism?
As mentioned above, hypothyroidism develops when your thyroid fails to produce the hormones necessary for you to be healthy. However, several factors can lead to hypothyroidism, such as:
- Agent Orange Exposure
- Autoimmune disease
- Over-response to hyperthyroidism treatment
- Thyroid surgery
Veterans could also be at a higher risk of developing hypothyroidism due to Agent Orange exposure if they:
- Are a woman
- Are over 60 years of age
- Have a family history of the condition
- Have been exposed to radiation
- Had thyroid surgery
- Have ben pregnant in the last six months
Hyperthyroidism and Agent Orange Exposure – The Connection
Agent Orange was a chemical herbicide used by the United States in Vietnam and surrounding areas during the Vietnam War. The herbicide was used to clear foliage for military operations. However, the chemical exfoliant has led to a variety of health conditions to exposed individuals. Hypothyroidism is one of those health conditions.
Until recently, however, the VA did not recognize that Agent Orange exposure caused hypothyroidism. It wasn’t until Congress passed the 2021 bill that hypothyroidism was recognized as a presumptive condition for Agent Orange exposure. This is important because it allows Veterans to get presumptive service connection for hypothyroidism.
What is Presumptive Service Connection?
The VA presumes that certain disabilities, injuries, and health conditions were caused by service due to the unique circumstances of a Veteran’s military service. If a Veteran develops a presumptive condition and they can prove they were exposed to whatever is presumed to cause the condition, they can get the disability compensation from the VA.
A Veteran normally needs to prove three things to receive disability benefits. They need to have a current medical diagnosis for the disability, an event in-service that caused the condition, and a nexus connecting the disability to the in-service event.
When a Veteran has a presumptive condition, they do not need to provide a medical nexus connecting the condition to their military service.
Basically, making a condition presumptive lowers the amount of evidence a Veteran needs to provide the VA to receive disability compensation.
Helping Veterans Receive VA Benefits for Hypothyroidism
A recent bill passed by Congress adds hypothyroidism to the Agent Orange presumptive condition list. This means that Veterans who have a current hypothyroidism diagnosis and were exposed to Agent Orange in service are entitled to disability compensation for the condition.
If you need assistance getting your hypothyroidism service connected, Berry Law can help. Contact Berry Law today to receive a free case evaluation.