Military Base Toxic Exposure and Veterans Disability Benefits

Military Base Toxic Exposure and Veterans Disability Benefits

Posted On: Dec 12, 2023

One of the many risks of serving in the military is the potential exposure to toxic substances on bases, which is not often taken into consideration. Many returning service members may struggle with health problems brought on by exposure to hazardous substances.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of toxic exposure, you may be able to apply for disability benefits from the Veterans Affairs (VA).

Understanding Military Base Toxic Exposure

Many chemicals, contaminants, and dangerous compounds accumulate in military facilities. Hazardous chemicals, such as asbestos and Agent Orange, may have been exposed to veterans. From lung issues to malignancies, long-term exposure can cause crippling diseases. To intervene quickly, it is critical to recognize these symptoms.

Superfund Sites and Military Bases

The EPA designated over 100 U.S. military facilities as Superfund sites due to pollution. Concerns about veterans' health at various places have been raised due to this pollution. Let's look at the options accessible to those who may have been exposed to toxins at these locations.

Toxic Exposure and Presumptive Conditions

The VA recognizes specific conditions caused by military toxic exposure as presumptive conditions. Presumptive conditions do not require veterans to prove a direct service connection for their illness. Instead, they are automatically presumed to be service-related if certain criteria are met.

However, not all types of toxic exposure have presumptive conditions. For those without presumptive conditions, veterans need to establish a service connection, which involves proving that:

  • They have a current illness or injury affecting their health.
  • They served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.
  • One of the following is true:
    • They became ill or injured while on active duty, and the condition is linked to the illness or injury.
    • They had a pre-existing illness or injury before joining the military, and their time in service exacerbated the condition.
    • They have a disability related to active-duty service that manifested after their service ended.

Types of Toxic Exposure and Associated Conditions

Various types of toxic exposure may have occurred at military bases, including:

  1. Asbestos:
  • Signs of Asbestos Poisoning.
  • Possible Effects of Asbestos Exposure.
  • Note: There are currently no presumptive conditions for Asbestos Exposure.
  1. Mustard Gas or Lewisite:
  • Signs of Mustard Gas or Lewisite Contact.
  • Presumptive Mustard Gas or Lewisite Conditions.
  1. Contaminated Drinking Water at Camp Lejeune:
  • Signs of Contaminated Drinking Water Exposure.
  • Presumptive Contaminated Drinking Water Conditions.
  1. Project 112 or Project SHAD:
  • Chemical exposure during these projects.
  • At present, there are no presumptive conditions recognized for veterans participating in Projects 112 and SHAD.
  1. Radiation Exposure:
  • Presumptive Radiation Exposure Conditions.

Veterans Disability Benefits Based on Percentage Ratings

VA disability ratings are awarded based on the severity of symptoms and how they affect the veteran's daily life. The higher the rating percentage, the more substantial the monthly compensation and accompanying benefits. Here are the benefits associated with different percentage ratings:

0% Rating Benefits:

  • Enrollment in VA Healthcare Priority Group 6.
  • Pay for travel to treatment of service-connected conditions.
  • 10-point veteran preference for federal jobs.
  • Access to commissaries, exchanges, and morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) facilities.
  • Burial and plot allowance (available only to compensable 0% ratings).

10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, and 90% Rating Benefits:

  • Projected monthly disability compensation.
  • Enrollment in specific VA Healthcare Priority Groups.
  • VA-backed home loan fee waiver.
  • Access to Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) support programs.
  • Pay for travel to treatment.
  • 10-point veteran preference for federal jobs.
  • Access to commissaries, exchanges, and MWR facilities.

100% Rating Benefits:

  • Projected monthly disability compensation.
  • No-cost dental care.
  • Dependents Educational Assistance.
  • Restorative training.
  • CHAMPVA–Civilian Health and Medical Program.

Navigating the Claims Process

It is critical for veterans applying for disability compensation to understand the complexities of the claim’s procedure. The basic procedures are as follows:

  1. Medical Documentation:

Gather comprehensive medical records regarding health problems related to hazardous exposure on military bases and in military facilities. To win a claim, you need to provide the evidence.

  1. File a Claim with the VA:

Fill out a VA disability claim form. Explain in detail what you were exposed to, how it affected your health, and how it affected your daily activities.

  1. Appeal if Necessary:

Persevere if your first claim is turned down. The decision is appealable to you. Give further evidence and ensure your case is looked at carefully.