Living with cancer or chronic disease is, for many, a terrible reality after active duty military service. Exposure to toxic chemicals on base or while deployed has been linked to a number of cancers and diseases. Many veterans survive combat, only to come home with a kidney cancer diagnosis.
Kidneys seem particularly vulnerable to developing cancers if exposed to hazardous substances. For instance, kidney cancer and Agent Orange exposure have been linked.
Kidneys eliminate waste from the body, so once you have been exposed to a toxin, it is likely to pass through your kidneys. If you developed kidney cancer after serving in the military, contact a VA disability lawyer right away.
Our team at Gerling Law Injury Attorneys can help you with your VA disability claim. We’ll walk you through why it is so important to know exactly what exposures may have led to your kidney cancer. Understanding the links between exposures and outcomes can help you get the best VA compensation for kidney cancer.
What is Kidney Cancer?
Kidney cancer is a disease where kidney cells grow out of control, forming tumors. You may also hear kidney cancer referred to as “renal cancer.” Kidney cancer is sometimes called a silent killer because it rarely causes symptoms in its early stages. However, later-stage kidney cancer symptoms may include:
- Blood in the urine,
- Persistent back pain,
- Side pain,
- Loss or lack of appetite,
- Exhaustion, and
- Intermittent fevers.
Doctors can perform blood and urine tests, as well as different types of imaging, to try to diagnose kidney cancer. If you do have kidney cancer, then doctors will assign a number, called a stage, to describe your condition.
The stages of kidney cancer range from 1 to 4, with 4 being the most severe. VA disability ratings vary, and VA compensation for kidney cancer varies depending upon the stage of your disease.
VA Disability Rating for Kidney Cancer
The VA assigns disability rating is based on the severity of your military service-related condition. Your disability rating is significant because it plays a key role in determining the amount of compensation you will receive each month. VA compensation for kidney cancer will thus be based on your individual disability rating.
The VA can rate kidney cancer in any number of ways based on the status of the disease and any accompanying or “comorbid” conditions. For instance, if your kidney cancer causes other conditions, like diabetes, to get worse, then you may be entitled to more compensation.
Usually, the VA compensation system ties your potential compensation to a “diagnostic code” (DC). This is a medical code that the doctor will assign to your specific diagnosis.
You may see both a DC and a disability rating when referring to your kidney cancer assessments at the VA. For instance, if your kidney tumor is benign, it is evaluated under DC 7529. Your VA disability rating is based on the tumor’s effects on the surrounding organs.
If the tumor is malignant, it is evaluated under DC 7528, malignant neoplasms of the genitourinary system. In this case, the VA gives you a 100 percent disability rating.
Using these examples, the VA disability rating for stage 3 kidney disease would therefore be based on both the diagnostic code of what was causing the disease and the amount of disability it was causing.
Agent Orange and Kidney Cancer
The number of toxins that can potentially cause kidney cancer is a mile long. However, the VA still makes veterans prove that their kidney cancer was caused by Agent Orange. Many Vietnam Veterans have had the VA deny their compensation claims for kidney cancer; Agent Orange is presumed to cause only specific ailments.
Agent Orange exposure was a common risk for anyone who served during the Vietnam War. Accordingly, the VA tends to limit Agent Orange claims to only the Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions, meaning that the VA presumes that certain defined health problems are related to herbicide exposure.
Denials of Agent Orange claims for kidney cancer are based on research by the International Institute of Medicine (IOM).
The IOM determined that kidney cancer falls into the inadequate/insufficient evidence category to demonstrate a link between kidney cancer and Agent Orange. As a result, the VA does not include kidney cancer as a presumptive condition related to Agent Orange exposure.
That said, veterans can still apply for a “service connection” between their exposure to Agent Orange and their kidney cancer. To do so, a veteran must show direct exposure to Agent Orange and developing kidney cancer as a result.
Filing a VA claim like this can be complex and involved. Our team at Gerling Law Injury Attorneys has helped thousands of veterans obtain VA compensation for kidney cancer.
VA Kidney Cancer Benefits
In addition to direct compensation, the VA provides other benefits related to kidney cancer and disease. Some of these benefits are offered regardless of veterans’ service-connected or non-service-connected status. These benefits may also be available regardless of whether your kidney cancer and Agent Orange exposure are related.
Benefits may include:
- Dialysis care at a VA dialysis site,
- Home dialysis provided by a VA dialysis provider or contractor, and
- Transplant services provided by the VA’s National Transplant Program.
Accessing these benefits may be difficult, especially if you’re suffering from a serious form of cancer. Speaking with a qualified VA disability lawyer can help. Our Gerling Law Injury Attorneys team has extensive experience in navigating VA kidney cancer, Agent Orange, and other benefit claims.
How We Can Help
Gerling Law was founded on “client first” principles. In every situation, we do what’s right for our clients. That means we fight for the VA compensation for kidney cancer that you deserve. We’ve been serving communities across Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois, as well as veterans nationwide, for decades. Our track record speaks for itself.
Contact us today for a free case consultation. We’d love to help you get the benefits you need.