What’s worse, having bladder cancer from Agent Orange, or getting denied a service connection for your veteran’s disability? If you’ve experienced both of these, you may be glad to hear that bladder cancer has been added to the Agent Orange presumptives list.
Fortunately, something that can take a load off of your mind is that bladder cancer is on the Agent Orange presumptives list. Approval has taken decades, but in July 2020, lawmakers demanded the VA to add bladder cancer to the Agent Orange presumptive diseases update of 2020.
In This Article on Bladder Cancer and Agent Orange Connections:
- Why the Latest News on Agent Orange Compensation Matters
- Why Bladder Cancer is on the Agent Orange Presumptives List
- How Living with Bladder Cancer Impacts Your Life
- Conditions Similar or Related to Bladder Cancer
- Conditions Related to Agent Orange and Bladder Cancer
- What is a Presumptive Service Connection?
- How the VA Rates Active Bladder Cancer
- How the VA Rates the Residuals of Bladder Cancer
- Agent Orange and Bladder Cancer 2020 Update: The Application Process
- How to Appeal for Bladder Cancer VA Disability Claim
- How Woods and Woods Can Help
Why the Latest News on Agent Orange Compensation Matters
You volunteered to put your life on the line for your country. How you are treated once you come home from active duty matters. You deserve to be honored and receive optimal physical and mental health care.
The new legislation helps their families as well. Disability benefits will take an emotional, physical, and financial burden off veterans and their loved ones. If the veteran has passed away, the compensation can do the same for their surviving spouse and dependents.
Another reason why the news that bladder cancer is on the Agent Orange presumptives list is important is that it sends a message to young citizens who are debating whether to enlist or not.
In a recent interview on Montana Public Radio, Associate News Director Edward O’Brien pointed out that people are waiting to see how veterans are treated once they return home. A veteran Mr. O’Brien interviewed said he developed hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer years ago from Agent Orange exposure. Unfortunately, as recently as 2017, the link was still not recognized. The Trump administration demanded more evidence of a connection between Agent Orange and these conditions, including bladder cancer. Because of this 2020 legislation, over 34,000 veterans with these conditions will be eligible for disability.
Why Bladder Cancer is on the Agent Orange Presumptives List
A Vietnam vet is more likely to die from cancer than from heart disease. In many cases, the culprit is Agent Orange exposure.
The main ingredient of Agent Orange (dioxin TCDD) is highly toxic and known to cause cancer. The toxin builds up in the fatty tissue of the body and can be stored there for years. Eventually, the body’s exposure to the toxin results in damaged, cancerous tissue.
With more scientific research, it was hard for the VA to deny that bladder cancer is not related to Agent Orange.
Now that bladder cancer is on the Agent Orange presumptives list, veterans (or their surviving spouses) can move forward with getting their due disability compensation.
One of our VA disability lawyers goes over the Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions list in this video:
How Living with Bladder Cancer Impacts Your Life
To be eligible for VA disability benefits, a veteran must prove that active duty service contributed to or caused their condition and show that the disease is adversely impacting their life.
As you can imagine, any cancer will negatively impact a person’s life, whether it is the disease itself or the therapies used to treat it. Here are some of the symptoms associated with bladder cancer.
- Back pain on one side of the body
- Blood/clots in the urine
- Feeling the urge to urinate but not being able to pass the urine
- Pain/burning during urination
- The urge to urinate multiple times during the night
- Frequent urination
Unfortunately, in some cases, by the time a veteran experiences symptoms of bladder cancer, the cancer has already metastasized (spread to other parts of the body). When this happens, other symptoms will occur, such as coughing or wheezing if the cancer spreads to the lungs, in addition to:
- Abdominal pain
- Bone pain
- Bone fractures
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
- Pelvis pain
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
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Once a veteran has received their diagnosis, their doctor will prescribe a treatment plan, which can include:
- Bladder cancer surgery
- Targeted therapy drugs
- Intravesical therapy
When a veteran is dealing with cancer symptoms or the side effects of treatments, it can be challenging to lead a normal life. Medications can cause extreme drowsiness or severe nausea and vomiting. It can be difficult to work and take care of household chores.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers goes over the questions Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm, is often asked about veterans’ disability claims and appeals.
Conditions Similar or Related to Bladder Cancer
Someone with bladder cancer symptoms might not seek treatment from their doctor right away as the symptoms are similar to those of a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Symptoms of a UTI:
- Burning/pain during urination
- Frequent urges to urinate
- Abdominal, back, and/or pelvic pain
- Blood in the urine
Conditions Related to Agent Orange and Bladder Cancer
Something to consider when making your disability claim to the VA is whether you have any conditions related to bladder cancer and Agent Orange exposure as they can increase your disability rating. Here are two examples.
- Bladder cancer, Agent Orange, and hypothyroidism: Another condition recently added to the Agent Orange presumptives list is hypothyroidism. A 2014 study also found that bladder cancer can metastasize to the thyroid, causing additional damage to the gland.
- Vietnam veterans and hypertension: Studies within the past few years have found a link between Agent Orange and high blood pressure, and a relationship between bladder cancer and hypertension.
Here is a video explaining how the VA combined ratings table works from one of our Veterans Disability Lawyers.
What is a Presumptive Service Connection?
To be eligible for VA disability, your condition needs to be related to your service. The VA assumes that certain disabilities and illnesses are indeed caused by military service. If they find that a condition is common amongst members of veteran groups, they’ll add that condition to the presumptives list. Anyone who develops that condition will be given disability compensation.
Diseases on the presumptives list can be chronic, such as:
If you develop a chronic condition within a year of your release from duty, you should apply for VA disability benefits.
To qualify for presumptive benefits, you must meet certain requirements. Examples include the following:
- You were a prisoner of war and your condition is (at the very least) 10% debilitating
- You were exposed to Agent Orange
- You served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975
- You were exposed to ionizing radiation during nuclear testing
- You were a POW in Japan
- You served at a radiation diffusion plant before February 1, 1992
- You are a Gulf War vet and have developed a debilitating condition (at least 10%) by December 31, 2021
- You served in the Southwest Asia Theater of Operations
How the VA Rates Active Bladder Cancer
The VA distinguishes active bladder cases from post-treatment recovery cases.
To start, you’ll be assigned a temporary disability rating of 100% for up to six months following your treatment, which includes chemotherapy, radiation, and other therapeutic measures.
If, after that six-month post-treatment period, your bladder cancer is still active, the VA will extend your temporary and total (100%) disability rating until cancer remission. Once you end treatment, the VA will want you to undergo a follow-up C&P (Compensation and Pension) examination to evaluate your overall health, as well as your body’s response to treatment.
How the VA Rates the Residuals of Bladder Cancer
Even if your cancer is in remission, you can still be eligible for VA disability benefits if you have residual symptoms that are related to your injury, the cancer, or the treatment you received. Residual symptoms and dysfunctions most commonly include the inability to adequately void your bladder or some sort of kidney dysfunction.
- Renal dysfunction: The VA rating for kidney dysfunction as a residual of bladder cancer ranges from 0%-100% depending on the severity of your symptoms. If you need kidney dialysis, you’ll likely receive a rating of 100%.
- Bladder voiding dysfunction: Dysfunction can include leakage, obstructed voiding, and urinary frequency. Again, your VA rating is dependent upon the severity of your symptoms and can range from 0% to 60%.
- Erectile dysfunction (ED): If you experience ED as a result of your bladder cancer, you may qualify for special monthly compensation (SMC) for what is considered “loss of use of a creative organ.” The SMC is added to your basic compensation rate.
Agent Orange and Bladder Cancer 2020 Update: The Application Process
If you are a veteran who has not applied for VA disability benefits in the past, you can fill out a claim form and request that your case be reviewed for eligibility. You will need to submit a new form if you have applied in the past but were denied.
Additionally, if you are already receiving disability payments, you will need to resubmit your claim to request a new VA disability rating now that bladder cancer is on the Agent Orange presumptives list.
How Veterans Can Apply
To receive VA disability benefits, you will need to supply proof that:
- You have bladder cancer.
- The disease is making it difficult to live your life.
- The disease is service-related (or that you were in the location required on the presumptive condition list).
You can obtain that information from your doctor in the form of:
- Written/digital patient records (chart notes from your doctor)
- The results of diagnostic testing including x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and blood work
It can take over 130 days to receive a decision from the VA. If approved, you will receive a VA disability rating (between 10% and 100%) and start receiving payments based on that rating.
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How Surviving Family Members Can Apply
According to the VA, spouses, dependent children, and dependent parents can receive compensation and health care benefits.
Surviving family members will need to:
- Meet the eligibility requirements
- Submit a DIC, Death Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits application (VA Form 21P-534EZ)
- Surviving parents need to fill out a separate form: Dependency and Indemnity Compensation by Parent/Parents (VA Form 21P-535)
If the VA denies your claim, you will need to go through the appeals process, which is best handled with a lawyer specializing in VA disability like Woods and Woods.
How to Appeal for Bladder Cancer VA Disability Claim
You can go through the appeals process if your claim is denied or if you disagree with the disability rating provided by the VA.
If you elect to dispute the VA’s decision, you will need to choose one of the following options.
- File a supplemental claim to present new evidence
- Request a higher-level review (asking for a senior reviewer to look at your claim)
- File a Board Appeal so you can get a hearing with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington, D.C.
Your legal team can guide you on which option is the best for your particular case.
How Woods and Woods Can Help
Applying for VA disability might seem overwhelming, which is why you should consider getting assistance from a legal team.
Our team at Woods and Woods can provide you with advice on the application process and insight into what you need to prove that:
- Your disability is adversely impacting your life
- Your condition is related to your active service duty
We will provide the tools you need to learn more about VA disability and your disability rating. If your case is denied, we will fight for you and provide substantial proof that you deserve disability benefits.
For over 30 years, Woods and Woods has fought and won cases for their clients. We are ready to do the same for you.
There is no limit to the number of times you can appeal your VA disability claim, but you can’t just send in the same thing over and over again. You need new and relevant evidence added to your claim for a proper appeal.
It is true that the VA can reduce your VA rating after a re-examination but if you have additional disabilities that are now on the Agent Orange presumptive list, you might be able to get full TDIU benefits. Make the free call and talk to us today.