The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that nearly 230,000 claims have already been processed for the three newest Agent-Orange related conditions through June 2012. Processing of retroactive agent orange claims included over 150,000 claims required to be adjudicated under the order of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Nehmer v. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The near completion of these complex Nehmer claims enables VA to redirect 1,200 employees who were dedicated to reviewing the Agent Orange cases toward addressing the current backlog of disability claims.
The Agent Orange claims stemmed from VA’s 2010 amendment of its regulations to add ischemic heart disease, hairy cell and other chronic B-cell leukemias, and Parkinson’s disease to the list of diseases presumed to be related to exposure to the herbicide used in Southeast Asia. Given the complexity of the historical casework, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) allocated its most experienced decision makers, about 37 percent of its rating staff, to processing Agent Orange claims. VBA’s 13 resource centers were exclusively dedicated to re-adjudicating these claims.
VA has also established a website, www.fasttrack.va.gov, to assist Veterans in filing claims for the three new conditions related to the effects of Agent Orange exposure. It guides Veterans through automated, program-assisted menus to capture the information and medical evidence needed for faster claims decision. Potentially eligible Veterans include those who were exposed based on duty or visitation in Vietnam or on its inland waterways between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975; exposed along the demilitarized zone in Korea between April 1, 1968, and August 31, 1971; or exposed due to herbicide tests and storage at military bases within and outside of the United States.
Help With Agent Orange Benefits Claims
Hopefully the redirection of staff to the backlog of disability claims will help shorten the currently long wait time for decisions. Please contact Bosley & Bratch if you need help with your Agent Orange related claims or other VA disabilities.