Military Burn Pit Exposure

Many Iraq/Afghanistan veterans were exposed to toxic chemicals from burn pits. Burn pits were used to dispose of many items that gave off harmful chemicals when burned. These chemicals include some of the same chemicals found in Agent Orange. Veterans returning from Iraq/Afghanistan may find that they have lung problems or other health problems that they did not have prior to deployment. The VA has not linked any illnesses to burn pit exposure. However, if you were exposed to smoke from a burn pit and now have lung problems, skin problems, or other health issues you did not have prior to deployment, you may qualify for VA compensation.

The government has also recently admitted that a number of Iraq veterans were exposed to chemicals from chemical weapons, left over from the Saddam’s army, that either were leaking or were disposed of improperly. This includes such chemicals such as mustard gas and other very toxic substances. If you think you were exposed to these chemical weapons and now have lung, skin or other health problems, you may be entitled to compensation.

As the VA does not presume that exposure to chemicals causes any illnesses, you need medical proof to connect your illness to exposure to burn pits or chemical weapons. The VA will most likely deny the claim at the first stage. However, you can appeal, and this is where a lawyer can help you with the case by putting together evidence to convince the VA that you were exposed to chemicals and that they caused your illness. 

Treatment for Female Vets Lagging Behind

A new report released by the Disabled American Veterans reveals that female veterans are being seriously under served by the VA.  There are serious gaps in service in all areas of the VA:  health care, job training, housing, and social issues.  Although the number of female veterans seeking health care in the VA system has doubled since 2000, 1 in 4 VA hospitals do not have a full-time gynecologist on staff. 

The VA treatment of women veterans seeking compensation for problems stemming for sexual assault in the military is one of the major areas were the VA falls short of its mission.  Many sexual assaults are not reported. VA regulations require the VA to inform the veteran that other evidence can be used to prove that the assault occurred.  Many veterans do not know how to go about getting this evidence or how to properly present it to the VA.  Even if the veteran gets such evidence and submits it, the VA will still often deny claims because the assault was not reported in service.  The VA will try to use that fact that the assault was not reported as evidence that it did not happen.  Recently, a Federal Appeals Court has held that the VA cannot do that.  The VA cannot treat the lack of a report in service as evidence that the assault did not happen. 

If a veteran, male or female, has a claim for compensation for sexual or other types of personal assault  in service, it is important that the veteran have good representation.  The veteran needs an advocate/attorney who is aware of the latest law in this area so the case can be properly presented to the VA, and if the claim is denied, can file an appeal and pursue the issue in Court, if necessary.        

INCREASING YOUR BENEFITS WITH A CLAIM FOR UNEMPLOYABILITY

If you have a combined rating of 60% or higher you may be able to obtain a rating of 100% by showing that your service-connected disabilities keep you from working. This benefit is called total disability due to individual unemployability (TDIU).

If your combined rating is 60% and all the disabilities are from the same cause or accident, affect the same body system, or stem from multiple injuries suffered in action or as a prisoner of war you may qualify for this higher rating. You may also qualify if your 60% rating is for one or both arms or legs. If you have a 70% rating, with at least one rating of 40%, then you may also qualify for this higher rating.

Once you meet the rating requirements, you have to show that your disabilities keep you from working. The VA must take into account your education and the type of work you did in the past. For example, if you only did heavy physical labor in the past, and now can only do a desk job, you may be unemployable. If you are still working, but your work is marginal, which means your wages are at or below the Government poverty level, you can still qualify for TDIU. If you get Social Security Disability benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits, the VA must consider that in deciding if you get TDIU.

Although this benefit is available the VA does not like to pay this benefit and will not usually grant it when you first apply. The VA will often deny or ignore a claim for TDIU. If you got a decision that denied TDIU or you told the VA you could not work when you applied for benefits and the VA did not consider TDIU, then you need to have our Veteran’s Benefits lawyer review your decision to decide if our firm can help you with an appeal.

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