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Court Wins

CCK Wins Benefits for Surviving Spouse of Camp Lejeune Veteran

Alyse Phillips

November 4, 2022

Updated: February 16, 2024


Case Summary

The Veteran served in the U.S. military from 1968 to 1969, which included service at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in North Carolina.  During this time frame, the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with toxins that were later found to cause serious adverse health conditions.

In 2018, the Veteran filed their first claim for bilateral hearing loss, tinnitus, myelofibrosis, and anemia.  In response, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued a Rating Decision granting service connection for tinnitus at 10 percent and bilateral hearing loss at 0 percent.

The Veteran hired Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD in early 2019 to help with their appeal.

CCK Continues to Pursue Benefits After the Veteran’s Death

First, CCK filed a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) on behalf of the Veteran.  In the NOD, CCK requested an increased rating and earlier effective date for bilateral hearing loss and tinnitus, entitlement to Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU), and service connection for anemia and myelofibrosis.  CCK also submitted an Intent to File in order to submit more claims for the Veteran.  Unfortunately, the Veteran passed away in early February 2020.

CCK quickly substituted the Veteran’s surviving spouse into their case to secure possible survivors benefits.  VA granted benefits for a non-service-connected burial, but denied benefits for Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC), Survivors Pension, and accrued benefits.  VA also issued a Statement of the Case which denied all of the previous issues on appeal.

CCK Secures Compensation for the Veteran’s Surviving Spouse

CCK requested a Higher-Level Review of the issues on appeal, knowing the Veteran’s surviving spouse should be entitled to these benefits.  Again, VA denied this claim in April 2021.

In response, CCK appealed the decision to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.  In the appeal, CCK submitted a medical expert report to help solidify the connection between the Veteran’s time at Camp Lejeune and their medical conditions.

Finally, in January 2022, the BVA granted service connection for myelofibrosis, anemia, and the Veteran’s cause of death.  In a later Rating Decision, VA awarded a 100 percent rating for the Veteran’s myelofibrosis and 30 percent for their anemia.  VA also granted Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) and DIC benefits, effective as early as 2018.

Although the Veteran unfortunately passed away from conditions linked to toxic exposure at Camp Lejeune, CCK was able to help the Veteran’s surviving spouse secure the compensation they were entitled to, dating back to before the Veteran’s death.

About the Author

Bio photo of Alyse Phillips

Alyse is a Supervising Attorney at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. Since joining the firm in August of 2016, she has specialized in representing disabled veterans and their dependents before the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

See more about Alyse