Blue Water Navy Veterans & VA Disability Benefits
Who Are Blue Water Navy Veterans?
Vietnam-era Blue Water Navy veterans are considered to be those who served aboard ships in the open waters off the coast of Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and who did not go ashore. It is estimated that there are between 50,000 and 90,000 Blue Water Navy veterans.
Blue Water Navy veterans will now be afforded the same presumption of herbicide agent exposure as those who served with “boots on the ground” in Vietnam. If you are a Blue Water Navy veteran who suffers from one of the presumptive conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure, you are now eligible for VA disability compensation benefits.
Blue Water Navy Veterans and Agent Orange Exposure
Historically, VA has excluded Blue Water Navy veterans from its presumption of herbicide agent exposure based on a decision issued in the case Haas v. Peake. However, on January 29, 2019, the Federal Circuit issued a decision in Procopio v. Wilkie, overruling Haas to include Blue Water Navy veterans under the presumption of exposure. As a result, many more veterans are now eligible for VA disability compensation and have an easier path to getting the benefits to which they are rightfully entitled.
Are Blue Water Navy Veterans Eligible for Agent Orange Related Benefits?
In order to be eligible for the presumption of Agent Orange exposure, you must meet the following criteria:
- You served offshore within twelve nautical miles seaward of the demarcation line of Vietnam between 1962 and 1975; and
- You are currently diagnosed with one of the medical conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure acknowledged by VA
If you meet the following criteria, you may want to consider filing a claim for service-connected compensation for your medical condition based on Agent Orange exposure.
VA’s List of Presumptive Conditions Associated with Agent Orange Exposure
VA presumes the following conditions are associated with exposure to Agent Orange:
- AL Amyloidosis
- Chronic B-Cell Leukemia
- Diabetes Mellitus Type II
- Hodgkin’s Disease
- Ischemic Heart Disease (including Coronary Artery Disease, stable and unstable angina, myocardial infarction, and sudden cardiac death)
- Multiple Myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-Onset
- Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
- Prostate Cancer
- Respiratory Cancers, including Lung Cancer
- Soft Tissue Sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, and mesothelioma)
As of now, if you are a Blue Water Navy veteran with one of the above-mentioned conditions, VA should award service connection on a presumptive basis.
How Much Can I Receive in Monthly Compensation?
The amount of monthly compensation a veteran receives depends on his or her combined disability rating. The VA disability compensation rates as of 2020 range from $142.29 to $3,106.04 for a single veteran with no dependents. However, you can receive additional compensation for eligible dependents, including: spouse, minor children, children between ages 18-23 and still in school, and dependent parents.
How Can Blue Water Navy Veterans Apply for VA Disability Benefits Based on Agent Orange Exposure?
You can apply online using eBenefits or in person with through a Veterans Service Organization or VA-accredited agent. However, Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD is very experienced in helping veterans pursue VA disability benefits based on Agent Orange exposure and may be able to assist in your case. For a free case evaluation, call 800-544-9144 today.
Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act Signed into Law
The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 was signed into law by President Trump on June 25, 2019. This bipartisan bill accompanies the Procopio decision insofar as it extends the presumption of herbicide exposure to veterans who served within twelve nautical miles seaward of the demarcation line of Vietnam. This law also extends the time period of the presumption for veterans who served along the Korean DMZ to September 1, 1967 until August 31, 1971. Additionally, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 provides access to health care, vocational training, rehabilitation, and monetary allowance to children with spina bifida of certain Thailand veterans who served during the Vietnam era.
On July 1, 2019, VA Secretary Wilkie issued a stay on all cases affected by this law until at least January 1, 2020. Essentially, this means that Blue Water cases currently pending will not be adjudicated until the stay is lifted.
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