The A - Z Guide: Veterans VA Disability Benefits
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Presumptive Conditions

Presumptive Service Connection


The simple explanation;

The VA awards (not grants or gives) disability compensation for injuries or illnesses (called conditions) that are determined to be caused or contributed to or aggravated by the veterans honorable military service.

This award of monetary and other benefits compensation is said to be "service connected" because there is adequate evidence of an event during service and then post service disabling conditions.

To be service connected, there must be proof that the veteran has qualifying service, that an event occurred and that a disabling condition exists today.

If "Presumption" is allowed, the burden of proof of the event is lifted from the veteran and today's documented disabling condition is presumed to have been related to a determined circumstance of that veterans service.

The recent best known examples might be the Vietnam veteran and the exposure to the herbicide known as Agent Orange. AO is thought to have contributed to a wide range of conditions and as of October 13th 2009, the "Presumptive List" for AO has again expanded.

Agent Orange

  • AL Amyloidosis
    A rare disease caused when an abnormal protein, amyloid, enters tissues or organs
  • Chronic B-cell Leukemias
    A type of cancer which affects white blood cells
  • Chloracne (or similar acneform disease)
    A skin condition that occurs soon after exposure to chemicals and looks like common forms of acne seen in teenagers. Under VA's rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
  • Diabetes Mellitus Type 2
    A disease characterized by high blood sugar levels resulting from the body’s inability to respond properly to the hormone insulin
  • Hodgkin’s Disease
    A malignant lymphoma (cancer) characterized by progressive enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, and by progressive anemia
  • Ischemic Heart Disease
    A disease characterized by a reduced supply of blood to the heart, that leads to chest pain
  • Multiple Myeloma
    A cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell in bone marrow
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
    A group of cancers that affect the lymph glands and other lymphatic tissue
  • Parkinson’s Disease
    A progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects muscle movement
  • Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-Onset
    A nervous system condition that causes numbness, tingling, and motor weakness. Under VA's rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of herbicide exposure.
  • Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
    A disorder characterized by liver dysfunction and by thinning and blistering of the skin in sun-exposed areas. Under VA's rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
  • Prostate Cancer
    Cancer of the prostate; one of the most common cancers among men
  • Respiratory Cancers (includes lung cancer) 
    Cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus
  • Soft Tissue Sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma)
    A group of different types of cancers in body tissues such as muscle, fat, blood and lymph vessels, and connective tissues

Children with Birth Defects: VA presumes certain birth defects in children of Vietnam and Korea Veterans associated with Veterans' qualifying military service.

Veterans with Lou Gehrig's Disease: VA presumes Lou Gehrig's Disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS) diagnosed in all Veterans who had 90 days or more continuous active military service is related to their service, although ALS is not related to Agent Orange exposure.

Gulf War

Certain illnesses are associated with Gulf War service in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations during the first Gulf War starting August 2, 1990 through the conflict in Iraq. VA offers eligible Veterans a free Gulf War Registry health exam to find possible long-term health problems related to Gulf War service.

Unexplained Illnesses

A prominent condition affecting Gulf War Veterans is a cluster of medically unexplained chronic symptoms that can include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders, and memory problems.

VA refers to these illnesses as "chronic multisymptom illness" and "undiagnosed illnesses." We prefer not to use the term “Gulf War Syndrome” when referring to medically unexplained symptoms reported by Gulf War Veterans. Why? Because symptoms vary widely.

Diabetes Mellitus (Type II) - Compensation 

Radiogenic Diseases Post-Service - Compensation

Post-Service Diseases Related to Exposure to Ionizing Radiation - Compensation

VA Publishes Final Regulation on “Presumptive” Illnesses - VA NY Harbor Healthcare System

Veterans' Diseases Associated with Agent Orange - Public Health

Diseases Associated with Ionizing Radiation Exposure - Public Health

News Releases - Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Health Care Benefits for Veterans with Multiple Sclerosis - Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence

Disability Compensation for Gulf War Veterans’ Illness - Public Health

HIV/AIDS Dermatological Images - HIV/AIDS

Health Benefits : Glossary

Frequently Asked Questions - War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC)

VA Publishes Final Regulation to Aid Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange - Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital

  • Section A - Developing Compensation Claims - Updated 3/20/11
  • Section B - Claims for Service Connection for Radiogenic Diseases Under 38 CFR 3.309(d) - Updated 9/15/11
  • Section C - Claims for Service Connection for Disabilities Resulting from Ionizing Radiation Exposure Under 38 CFR 3.311 - Updated 12/16/11
  • Section D - Claims for Service Connection for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - Updated 5/7/12
  • Section E - Claims Based on Service in Southwest Asia - Updated 3/20/11
  • Section F - Claims for Service Connection for Disabilities Resulting from Exposure to Mustard Gas or Lewisite - Updated 12/16/11
  • Section G - Claims Based on Former Prisoner of war (POW) Status - Updated 12/13/05
  • Section H - Claims for Service Connection for Other Diseases and Disabilities - Updated 12/16/11