Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a rare form of cancer that affects the lymphatic system and makes up only 0.4% of all cancer cases. Certain experiences or exposures in military service can cause Hodgkin’s lymphoma in veterans on a direct or secondary basis. Veterans who can service connect their cancer qualify for VA compensation for Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a 100% rating while the cancer is active and during treatment, plus for an extended time after treatment ends.
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In this article about Hodgkin’s lymphoma and veterans:
What is Hodgkin’s lymphoma?
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer that targets the lymphatic system. This type of cancer is very rare, with only about 1% of all lymphoma cases considered Hodgkin’s. Other types of lymphatic cancer are known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or B-cell leukemia.
The lymphatic system is part of the body’s immune system and specifically helps regulate the body’s fluids and fight infections or other diseases. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a specific type of cancer that stems from the white blood cells, called lymphocytes. This cancer causes a person’s white blood cells to grow uncontrollably, making the lymph nodes in the body swell.
Symptoms of Hodgkin’s lymphoma may include:
- Night sweats
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Swelling in lymph nodes
VA compensation for Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Although this form of lymphoma is quite rare, it is a fairly straightforward process to get disability benefits. If diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a veteran qualifies for 100% disability rating. Veterans with Hodgkin’s will receive this 100% rating during their treatment and for at least six months after treatment has ended.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is rated as follows under diagnostic code 7709:
|With active disease or during a treatment phase||100%|
The note on this diagnostic code explains that the 100% rating will continue for at least six months after any therapeutic procedures or medical treatment ends. At that time, the VA will reevaluate the rating based on the veteran’s current health as it relates to the condition, as well as residuals of the treatment. Any reduction in rating is subject to the VA’s provisions on reductions in evaluations for compensation.
Treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Symptoms of and treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma can be serious, which is why the VA rates the condition at 100% while the cancer is active.
Several options exist for treatment and the right choice depends on each patient’s condition and situation. There are many factors that decide what treatment is best such as the type and stage of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, symptoms, other blood tests, etc.
Treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma may include:
- Stem cell transplantation
While the treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma may be strenuous, the 5-year survival rate is relatively high at 87%. With the advancement of new technology and the ability for veterans to receive benefits from the VA, treatment has the potential to be affordable and successful.
Service connecting Hodgkin’s lymphoma for VA disability
To service connect Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a veteran will need medical records proving they have the illness and a nexus showing the condition is related to their service. Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange or toxins from burn pits during service will not need to provide a nexus but will need to be able to show they served in a qualifying period of time and location. This information may be listed in a DD214.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma and toxic-exposed veterans
The VA has acknowledged there is a link between veterans who have been exposed to burn pits and Agent Orange and the development of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hodgkin’s disease is considered a presumptive of Agent Orange exposure, and in 2022, the PACT Act added lymphomas of any type to the presumptive list for Gulf War era and post-9/11 veterans who served in certain areas and locations during time periods determined to have burn pit or other toxin exposure.
If a qualifying Vietnam or Gulf War era veteran has been exposed to either of these toxins during service and is later diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the VA will presume this is due to your exposure. You would not need to prove to the VA that your Hodgkin’s lymphoma was caused by your service.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma and HIV
HIV is commonly linked to certain cancers including Hodgkin’s lymphoma, since both diseases affect the body’s immune system. Those living with HIV are between 5 and 26 times more likely to develop Hodgkin’s as a secondary condition, and this number was one even higher. If you are a person living with HIV and the condition is service connected, you may be eligible for additional compensation from the VA if you later developed Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
How our VA disability lawyers can help
If a veteran’s claim is denied for Hodgkin’s lymphoma or a secondary condition related to the cancer, appealing is always an option. Our VA-accredited attorneys at Woods and Woods and support staff are dedicated to fighting for veterans and can help make the appeals process easier. You don’t pay a percentage of your back pay unless we win – we never touch your future monthly benefit checks. Call us today for a free case evaluation.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. White blood cells called lymphocytes grow uncontrollably causing lymph nodes to swell. Toxin-exposed veterans and veterans with HIV are at a higher risk of developing Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Those with Hodgkin’s lymphoma can receive VA disability benefits similar to any other type of cancer. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is rated at 100% while the disease is active, for the length of treatment, and for at least six months after treatment ends.