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Court Wins

CCK Helps Thailand Veteran Win TDIU Based on Herbicide Exposure

Michael Lostritto

January 22, 2022

Updated: November 20, 2023


Summary of the Case

The Veteran served on active duty in the United States Air Force from February 1955 to October 1976.  In February 1968, he was deployed to the Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand, where he served for one year as an administrative technician and supervisor.

On July 28, 2015, with the help of Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD, the Veteran filed a claim for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability benefits.  He sought entitlement to service connection for ischemic heart disease and diabetes mellitus type II, both secondary to herbicide exposure in Thailand.

In a February 2016 rating decision, VA denied the Veteran service connection for both conditions.  On August 17, 2016, he submitted a Notice of Disagreement with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board).

The Board also denied the Veteran service connection in early 2018, stating that he did not meet the criteria for presumptive service connection based on herbicide exposure.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Court) vacated this Board decision and remanded the claim for readjudication.

CCK Argues Service Connection Based on Thailand Herbicide Exposure

CCK once again represented the Veteran before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals on April 9, 2019.  Since diabetes mellitus type II and ischemic heart disease are included on the list of conditions associated with herbicide exposure, the Veteran only needed to prove that he was exposed to Agent Orange while in Thailand.

CCK argued that while the Veteran was not on regular perimeter duty — which is usually the requirement for presumptive service connection for Thailand veterans — he did live in the vicinity of the air base perimeter.  The Veteran lived in an open-air hooch and regularly worked within eyesight of the perimeter.

Considering the Veteran’s lay evidence and recollection of his service in Thailand, the Board granted service connection for diabetes mellitus type II and ischemic heart disease.

VA Awards TDIU and Special Monthly Compensation to Thailand Veteran

In an April 2019, VA granted the Veteran monthly disability compensation at an 80 percent rate, effective July 31, 2015.  VA later awarded Dependents’ Educational Assistance effective July 31, 2015 and Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) based on housebound criteria effective August 27, 2019.

With the help of CCK, the Veteran submitted a supplemental claim in December 2020.  Based on evidence that the Veteran was and is still unable to secure substantially gainful employment, VA granted Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits equal to a 100 percent rating effective July 31, 2015.

About the Author

Bio photo of Michael Lostritto

Michael joined CCK in September of 2016 as an Attorney, was named Supervising Attorney in 2021, and now serves as a Managing Attorney. His practice focuses on the representation of disabled veterans before the Department of Veterans Affairs and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

See more about Michael