How Particulate Matter is Affecting the Presumptive Service List

On Apr 25, 2022, the Veterans Administration announced nine rare respiratory cancers and twelve other respiratory conditions as presumed service-connected disabilities due to military environmental exposures. This is excellent news for Gulf War veterans, among others. The VA will start processing disability claims for veterans who served in Southwest Asia theater operations from 1990 to the present, or Uzbekistan, Syria, Djibouti, or Afghanistan during the Persian Gulf War from Sept 19, 2001.

Respiratory Conditions on the Presumptive Service List

The following is a list of rare respiratory cancers that have been added to the presumptive conditions list:

  • Adenocarcinoma of the trachea
  • Adenosquamous carcinoma of the lung
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx or the trachea.
  • Salivary gland-type tumors of the trachea or the lung
  • Large cell carcinoma of the lung
  • Sarcomatoid carcinoma of the lung
  • Typical and atypical carcinoid of the lung

The following is a list of the other respiratory conditions that have been added to the presumptive list, and which are more prevalent than the cancers listed above:

  • Asthma that was diagnosed after service
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic rhinitis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
  • Emphysema
  • Granulomatous disease
  • Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
  • Pleuritis
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Sarcoidosis

These respiratory conditions were added to the list of presumed service-connected disabilities because the VA identified a biological plausibility between particulate matter and carcinogenesis of the respiratory tract. Particulate matter is a mixture of liquid particles and solid particles found in the air. These particles are incredibly tiny but can have harmful effects on humans. Veterans who had their claims denied for any of these conditions are encouraged to file a supplemental claim to receive their benefits if the claim is not currently pending.

What Are Supplemental Claims?

Supplemental claims can take the VA four to five months to decide. These types of respiratory conditions are considered new evidence that warrant the filing of a supplemental claim. As long as you have a diagnosis, you do not have to submit additional evidence but would need to file the claim based off a new theory to include a result of particulate matter exposure. If a claim is currently pending, the veteran does not have to file a supplemental claim and the VA will look at the evidence and process it as a presumptive. However, if the claim is closed, they would need to file a supplemental claim.

Why Do You Need a Veterans’ Disability Claims Attorney?

When you have one or more newly listed respiratory conditions on the updated presumed service-connected connected disabilities list, you may consider filing a supplemental claim or a VA disability claim.

It is best to speak to a skilled veterans attorney to see if you qualify for VA disability benefits. We can guide you on how to file your claim and avoid common mistakes in the process. Contact Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law for more information.

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