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VA awards Agent Orange disability to veteran

NAELA National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. MEMBER

New Jersey residents might be interested to hear that a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who has rib, pelvis and prostate cancer was awarded Agent Orange disability benefits from the Department of Veterans. As some veterans have found out, gaining benefits for conditions such as Agent Orange exposure from the VA can sometimes prove difficult. Even this retired veteran did not receive it at first. The VA initially denied him the award, but then later decided to reverse its decision.

The man had reportedly claimed that he had been exposed to the Agent Orange herbicide during his military service. When the VA considered the preponderance of his evidence, they stated that they did believe he was exposed to an herbicide while he was on U.S. Aircrafts. However, they went on to say that it wasn't clear which herbicide he had been exposed to. Yet, in the end, they ruled in the man's favoring, stating that the doubt was resolved in his favor, so he was awarded his Veterans benefits.

The VA's decision concerning the man's case is significant to many people because it gives hope to other veterans that they too might be able to obtain their Agent Orange disability compensation. Other veterans who served on C-123K aircrafts have received the Agent Orange disability compensation, but this is the first time that one has done so without having to appeal to the Board of Veterans' Appeals. This is reportedly the first of its kind concerning VA benefits decisions, and military veterans advocates hope that such decisions will continue.

An elder law attorney may be able to help veterans who think they might be entitled to compensation from the VA for conditions that they developed while they were in the service or conditions that were made worse due to their military service. The attorney might be able to help them determine whether or not they have the grounds to file a claim and then help them obtain benefits or appeal the BVA's rejection of their claim if it comes down to that.

Source: Fox News, "VA does about-face, gives Agent Orange disability benefit to Air Force veteran", August 11, 2013

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