Serving in one of our nation’s military branches is one of the most patriotic things that you can do. Unfortunately, military service can leave deep physical and psychological scars that can affect you for the rest of your life.
Recognizing this, the federal government created disability benefits for veterans. The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers these benefits.
Over time, the government recognized that certain disabilities and conditions were more likely to develop in soldiers who served in a specific place and time.
Thus, the VA developed two different ways of assessing and rating disability benefits. We will go over both of them by looking at the disability rating process for Multiple Myeloma associated with two different conflicts and their related toxins:
- Toxins that came from exposure to burn pits in the wars in the Middle East; and
- Toxins that came from exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange during the conflict in Vietnam.
If you have or think you have Multiple Myeloma and fall into either of the two aforementioned categories of veterans, you may have a strong claim for VA disability benefits. The time and place you served, however, will affect the application process.
We Know That Applying for Disability Benefits Isn’t Always Easy
We understand that applying for VA disability benefits isn’t always the most straightforward process. Thus, the VA disability benefits team at Gerling Law Injury Attorneys is here to help.
If you are in the process of applying for VA disability benefits related to Multiple Myeloma, you might have a few questions about the process. You may have questions like, What is the disability percentage for Agent Orange Multiple Myeloma? If so, you are in the right place.
We’ll go over the basics of the VA’s disability rating, how it applies to Multiple Myeloma, and what you need to do in order to get the most out of your claim.
Multiple Myeloma’s Military Service Connection
Since we are talking about Multiple Myeloma arising from exposure in two entirely different times and places, their military service connection is also different.
We will briefly cover both and discuss how the VA designates each disability. To understand the designations, however, we need to explain presumptive conditions and how they affect VA disability claims.
What Are Presumptive Conditions?
As previously noted, the VA makes it easier for veterans who served in a specific place and time to file a disability claim for a number of specific conditions. We call these presumptive conditions.
Often, these are conditions that arise after a large group of servicemembers suffer exposure to a certain toxin. If there is an exceptionally strong connection between the two, the VA creates a list of presumptive conditions.
If you have a diagnosis for a presumptive condition associated with a specific time and place of military service, you do not need to prove a connection between your condition and your service. Instead, it is presumed that if you have that condition and served in that place and time, the condition is connected to your service.
Conversely, if you have the same condition but served in a place and time where the condition is not presumed, applying for VA disability benefits includes an extra step.
You need to prove that you have the condition, and you also have to prove the connection between your service and your condition. This involves the often time-consuming act of providing evidence to support your claim.
Multiple Myeloma Caused by Agent Orange: A Presumptive Condition
Agent Orange was an herbicide used primarily in the conflict in Vietnam. It was also used to a lesser extent in the Korean demilitarized zone.
Agent Orange’s purpose was to eradicate plant life on the ground so that enemy combatants could not use the foliage as cover. Airplanes often sprayed it over large areas of foliage. This means that anything on the ground was exposed to it—including our service members.
Over the years, research has repeatedly shown that Agent Orange is highly toxic. As a result of its toxicity, researchers have connected it with various ailments and disabilities. Among them are Multiple Myeloma, other specific types of cancer, and Parkinson’s Disease.
Recognizing the strong connection between Agent Orange exposure and Multiple Myeloma, the VA added it to Agent Orange’s list of presumptive conditions.
Multiple Myeloma and Burn Pits: Not A Presumptive Condition
During the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other deployments in the Middle East over the last 30 years, the US military has utilized burn pits. Burn pits are exactly what they sound like: large, open pits used to dispose of waste by burning it.
The military typically places these pits within or just outside military installations. As a result, just about every civilian and military service member in the area breathes in the smoke and other particulates.
You can develop several respiratory issues from inhaling particulate matter from a simple wood fire. However, the military burns things that aren’t traditionally incinerated in a simple fire, which amplifies health risks.
While there are certain conditions associated with burn pits that the government considers presumptive conditions, Multiple Myeloma is not one of them.
Thus, if you served in the Middle East and developed Multiple Myeloma, you will need to prove the connection between Multiple Myeloma, the burn pits, and your service.
How Does the VA Disability Rating System Work?
Each time someone applies for VA disability benefits, the VA makes its assessment and assigns a rating. The rating comes in a percentage.
A 100% disability rating nets you the maximum available monthly benefits, while a 10% rating nets you much less. The federal government periodically increases the maximum monthly benefit to reflect changes in the cost of living and inflation.
The VA uses a somewhat complex formula to calculate your specific disability rating. You can find a full outline of the process on their website. However, it gets complicated quickly, so we will just touch on the basics.
Essentially, the VA awards points based on various factors, including your age, length of service, and how severely your condition impacts your life. The more severe the condition, the higher the disability rating.
What Is the VA Disability Rating for Multiple Myeloma?
The VA’s schedule of ratings gives Multiple Myeloma a default rating of 100% if your cancer is active or otherwise undergoing treatment. Generally, the 100% rating continues for five years after your initial diagnosis. Five years after your initial diagnosis, the VA can reassess your disability rating.
After that five-year period, the VA will have you go through a mandatory disability rating reassessment. At that time, they can reduce your disability rating for a number of reasons. Most notably, if your cancer is in remission.
Why Hire A VA Lawyer?
Now, we have covered quite a bit of information on the basics of Multiple Myeloma’s VA disability rating. At this point, you may find yourself wondering why you’d need the help of a VA disability attorney. The truth is, you may not need an attorney to help you through this process.
However, it is also true that the VA disability benefits application process does not always go smoothly. The help of a VA disability benefits lawyer can significantly reduce the chance that you will run into any roadblocks. Furthermore, should those roadblocks arise, you will have the resources to get around them.
A VA disability lawyer can help you throughout the entire process. Sometimes it is hard to find the right medical specialist to get the right diagnosis. As disability attorneys, we have established relationships with medical experts in many fields, so we can help you get the right diagnosis.
If you are applying for Multiple Myeloma benefits as a Gulf War veteran, we can help establish the service connection. Doing so will involve gathering and preparing evidence, and we have the experience necessary to do that.
Finally, if your application is rejected or your ratings come out wrong, we can help you appeal the decision. These are just a few of the ways that we can help you.
Go with Experience. Go with Gerling.
Not all lawyers are created equal. Lawyers, like everyone else, learn a great deal through experience. When we have experience in a specific area, we have the experience to work through many of the roadblocks that may arise. Why? Because we have likely encountered the problem before.
Because VA benefits are a complex area of law, experience is key. With Gerling Law Injury Lawyers’ team of experienced VA disability benefits attorneys, you can rest easy and focus on recovery.
The outcome of your disability application can affect you and your family for years to come. Go into your Multiple Myeloma VA disability claim with confidence. Go with experience. Go with Gerling. ® Call us today and tell us your story; it’s always free!