Navigating the world of VA benefits can be tricky. This is especially true for conditions like jet fuel exposure syndrome. Service connection in these situations is not always cut-and-dry.
There are a variety of ways veterans may have experienced jet fuel exposure while serving. Of course, this includes those working on aircraft who were frequently exposed to jet fuel carcinogens. However, it also includes those exposed to its environmental presence as well.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) recognizes the harmful effects of these kerosene-based fuels. Jet propulsion fuel-5 (JP-5) is the primary jet fuel used by the US Navy. JP-8 is commonly used by the US Air Force.
The ATSDR also advises of similar effects by JP-4 and JP-7.
The vapors from these fuels can be very dangerous as they contain a mixture of hydrocarbons that negatively affect the body. As such, there may be VA benefits available to veterans who suffer from conditions connected to jet fuel exposure.
What We Cover In This Article On Jef Fuel Exposure Disabilities
- The Dangers of Jet Fuel Exposure
- Living With Jet Fuel Exposure Syndrome Symptoms
- Jet Fuel and Sleep Apnea
- VA Ratings for Sleep Apnea
- VA Benefits for Jet Fuel Exposure
- Obtaining VA Benefits
- Sleep Apnea-Specific VA Benefits
- Other Reported JP-5, JP-7, JP-8, JP-4 Jet Fuel Health Hazards
- Related Conditions Specific to Sleep Apnea From Jet Fuel Exposure
- Applying for Jet Fuel Exposure VA Benefits
- Where Do I Start?
The Dangers of Jet Fuel Exposure
Jet fuel exposure has proven to be extremely toxic to the human body. Specifically, the carcinogens found in jet fuel vapors. The hydrocarbon-based components found in jet fuel chemicals, known as BTEX, are exceptionally toxic to both humans and the environment.
Even service members who were not directly handling fuel tanks could have experienced the effects of these substances. Simply being in the presence of jet fuel vapors can have drastic effects on human health.
Many of these harmful chemicals are lipid-soluble.
This means that they can enter the body when inhaled through the nose, and find quick access to the brain. From there, it is easier for these chemicals to cross the blood-brain barrier and leave lasting effects on the neurological system.
For veterans seeking VA benefits for conditions related to jet fuel exposure, there may be a variety of symptoms present. Each case will vary, and the health effects may depend on the circumstances of the exposure.
Living With Jet Fuel Exposure Syndrome Symptoms
Relatively speaking, scientists do not know much about the effects of jet fuel on humans. However, various studies have determined resulting conditions can affect the nervous system and some neurological functions.
There are a variety of medical conditions resulting from jet fuel exposure that make everyday life difficult for these veterans.
The symptoms may come in different variations and intensities for different individuals. However, they can be debilitating to the point where leading a normal everyday life is nearly impossible.
Some common examples of neurological effects include:
- Attention and memory problems
Research On Jet Fuel Injuries is Ongoing
Some studies on lab animals have provided further details. High exposure to jet fuel in these subjects resulted in drastic damage across the body. These included liver damage, decreased immune response, and various neurological symptoms.
Furthermore, emerging VA research has linked auditory processing issues with jet fuel exposure. In fact, the VA does now recognize auditory processing disorder to be resultant of jet fuel exposure.
This results in hearing problems at the internal level. Rather than the ability to take in sounds, victims of this condition cannot decipher the auditory messages they receive.
In addition to all of these symptoms, some of the most commonly-reported issues connected to jet fuel exposure are sleep disturbances.
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.
Jet Fuel and Sleep Apnea
One of the most common and frustrating symptoms related to acute exposure to jet fuel is sleep apnea.
This issue causes the interruption of breathing while sleeping. This disrupts the quality of sleep, thus diminishing the overall quality of life. More specifically, it disrupts an individual’s ability to live a normal life and do their job well.
In addition to interrupted and lower-quality sleep, sleep apnea also affects the body’s oxygen supply. This has the potential to lead to serious health consequences.
Without a foundation of solid, consistent, quality sleep, everyday tasks can become very tiresome. The ability to focus diminishes, and thus maintaining a healthy lifestyle becomes difficult.
VA Ratings for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea symptoms will vary between individuals. In order to evaluate its effect on each veteran and how the condition affects their ability to work, the VA assesses the condition.
From there, they assign it a rating. The VA has four ratings for sleep apnea.
A zero percent rating is the lowest. It is non-compensable—meaning veterans with a 0 percent rating are not eligible for VA benefits. However, there may be other resources available to veterans with this rating.
30 percent rating covers those with constant daytime tiredness.
50 percent rating is usually assigned to those who require a breathing device—like the CPAP machine. This means your sleep is significantly disrupted by the sleep apnea condition.
Finally, a 100 percent rating is the highest. The VA assigns it to veterans with severe sleep apnea that requires further medical procedures. This is less common and only applies to vets who experience frequent respiratory failure and carbon dioxide retention while sleeping.
VA Benefits for Jet Fuel Exposure
Living with jet fuel exposure syndrome symptoms can be debilitating for many veterans. With symptoms presenting in a variety of ways, no two veterans may have the same circumstances following chronic jet fuel exposure.
However, sleep apnea is one of the most commonly reported effects of this condition.
Veterans who suffer from sleep apnea as a result of jet fuel exposure may be able to qualify for monthly unemployability VA benefits. Especially in combination with other VA conditions jet fuel exposure may be responsible for, many veterans are deemed unemployable by the VA.
Since your condition resulted from (or became worsened by) service to our country, it is up to the VA to provide monthly benefits to help recoup losses from the inability to work.
A behind the scenes look at who works for you at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm.
Obtaining VA Benefits
To obtain VA benefits for a condition caused by service, veterans must establish what’s known as a “service connection” for their disability. When service-connected disabilities prevent veterans from working, the VA provides benefits to help offset income loss.
As it stands now, there is no immediate service connection given for jet fuel exposure. This means that veterans suffering from conditions resulting from jet fuel exposure must establish service connection directly. This entails three main factors.
First, the veteran must have a current diagnosis of a qualifying medical condition.
Second, there must have been an in-service event—like jet fuel exposure.
Third, there must be a medical nexus that links the current diagnosis to in-service exposure. If veterans can obtain a medical nexus that states their current diagnosed condition is likely to be resulting from in-service jet fuel exposure, they may be able to receive VA benefits.
If this service connection is established, the VA will then assign the veteran a disability rating. This affects the monthly benefit the veteran is awarded. In essence, the more severe an injury means the more monetary compensation the VA provides.
The Nexus Letter is like the missing link to a successful VA disability compensation claim. In this video, one of our veteran’s disability lawyers explains the importance of the Nexus Letter.
Sleep Apnea-Specific VA Benefits
When seeking VA benefits for sleep apnea as a result of jet fuel exposure, the process follows this same structure.
First, the veteran must have a diagnosis of sleep apnea from a medical professional. This usually requires a sleep study, usually performed at a clinic. Though, sometimes they can be done at home.
Using a sleep study helps to prove the condition under the supervision of a medical professional. This way, there is a strong basis of evidence for the disorder to provide to the VA when applying for benefits.
Second, veterans must be able to show their sleep apnea either started or became worse through their service.
Finally, veterans have to prove the nexus between the sleep apnea diagnosis and the in-service event. In this case, the in-service event was prolonged jet fuel exposure.
This proof often comes in the form of a nexus letter from a medical professional. Again, the more evidence gathered to provide proof, the more likely VA benefits will be awarded.
Other Reported JP-5, JP-7, JP-8, JP-4 Jet Fuel Health Hazards
In some cases, jet fuel exposure has been linked to even more serious and debilitating diseases.
Heart and lung problems have been connected to chronic jet fuel exposure. This is especially true for service members who frequently inhaled the carcinogens found in jet fuel vapor.
JP-4 jet fuel health hazards are common for Vietnam-era veterans. Many of these individuals have an increased risk for heart disease, exacerbated by the chemical components of JP-4.
There are over 100 hydrocarbons in this form of jet fuel, with studies showing damaging effects to the human cardiovascular system.
One of our VA disability lawyers goes over the Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions list in this video:
Furthermore, when JP-4 is burned, it releases carbon monoxide and dioxide. These chemicals can damage the heart and lungs as they deprive the system of oxygen.
Another serious disease linked to jet fuel exposure is Parkinson’s disease. 20 percent of Parkinson’s patients were found to have frequent hydrocarbon exposure. This exposure can cause an earlier onset of the disease, as well as to accelerate its progression and severity of symptoms.
Furthermore, JP-4 exposure has also been connected to dementia. However, the research is more limited on this.
Related Conditions Specific to Sleep Apnea From Jet Fuel Exposure
One of the more widely-linked health issues relating to sleep apnea, in particular, is asthma. This may also relate to veterans with high jet fuel exposure, as respiratory issues are a known connection.
Research has found a direct link between bronchial asthma and obstructive sleep apnea. The two conditions are known to worsen each other, making it a debilitating combination.
Veterans who suffer from both asthma and sleep apnea tend to experience excessive daytime fatigue, making everyday tasks more difficult.
Here is a video explaining how the VA combined ratings table works from one of our Veterans Disability Lawyers.
Applying for Jet Fuel Exposure VA Benefits
When submitting a VA claim for JP-5 exposure—or exposure to any type of military jet fuel—the process can be very delicate.
It requires many steps, along with the help and documentation of medical professionals. There are many moving parts, and it can be difficult for the layperson to navigate by themselves.
This is why it is imperative to contact a trusted expert in the VA benefits field. An experienced team of VA disability benefits attorneys can help ensure you get the most out of your claim. This way, you can maximize your VA benefits and get back on your feet sooner.
A good VA benefits attorney will help you navigate through the VA system. They can help you determine your level of unemployability, and assist you throughout the process of obtaining evidence for this.
Be sure to compare your options when selecting a VA benefits attorney. Just like in other areas of law, not all lawyers are created equal.
You should look for a seasoned, professional firm with outstanding reviews. They should be active in their community and truly care about helping disabled veterans.
This way, you can maximize your VA benefits claim and recoup lost income due to jet fuel exposure conditions.
Where Do I Start?
To make the most of your VA benefits claim, it’s best to consult with a trusted advisor in this field. Woods and Woods, The Veterans Firm, is your solution.
Our highly-trained legal professionals want to help you make the most of your VA benefits claim. Woods & Woods is a family-owned and operated firm, helping veterans get the benefits they deserve since 1985.
For a legal consultation to evaluate your claim, contact us today. The consultation is free and confidential.
It can make all the difference in securing VA benefits for your jet fuel exposure disability.
Yes. You don’t have to specify a specific event when you inhaled the jet fuel. If you were around it and you can prove that, it’s a given that you probably inhaled it at least once. It’s hard to be around it and not get some in your lungs.
No. The VA doesn’t give ratings based on what happened to you. What happened is only important in proving a service connection. Your VA rating is based on how much your life is affected by your disability.