The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently added new illnesses to their presumptive disease list. Heart disease is one of the newly added illnesses and the one that has taken the most criticism for being on the list. Heart disease’s place on the presumptive diseases list has been attacked because it is such a common disease and not one that is necessarily tied into exposure to Agent Orange.
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, however, vehemently defends extending disability benefits to Vietnam veterans who developed heart disease. Shinseki’s defense is rooted in studies he claims demonstrate a definite link between heart disease and Agent Orange exposure.
Sec. Shinseki cited 9 studies the VA specifically examined. Of those 9, 6 of the studies illustrated links between Agent Orange and heart disease. These 6 studies more than suit the legal pre-requisites necessary to establish the link between the disease and the exposure and therefore qualify veterans for disability payments.
Many detractors are focusing on the cost of funding the veterans’ disability benefits. Sec. Shinseki, however, is bound by law to pay out disability benefits to veterans suffering from any disease scientifically proven to be cause by exposure to Agent Orange. Despite the concerns over the cost of the program, Sec. Shinseki claims his hands are tied.
On average, service members with these diseases will receive $1,000/month. Overall, the benefits will run the VA almost $67 billion over the 10 years. Some will always question the unknowns between heart disease and Agent Orange.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact LaVan & Neidenberg. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.