Last October the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) added new presumptive diseases to the list of claims they will pay veterans for that are associated with exposure to Agent Orange and other defoliants. Come October, the VA will pay out what will amount to thousands of disability claims to Vietnam veterans. Over the next 10 years, the VA will compensate over 153,000 veterans and at a cost of approximately $42 billion.
The VA will soon publish its final regulation implementing the pay outs for the Agent Orange disability claims in the Federal Register. From that date, Congress is given 60 days to stop the regulation from going into effect. If Congress fails to block the regulation, the VA will start retroactively paying up to 86,000 veterans for their diseases. These 86,000 veterans are only the first wave of claimants the VA expects to compensate.
Both the Senate and the House passed the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010 (HR 4899). This act made provisions for the first wave of disability compensation claims to the tune of $13.4 billion. This money will be given to the VA to make the compensation payments.
Sen. Jim Webb (D.-Va.) was the Senator behind adding the 60-day Congressional review language to the bill under the auspice the VA is committing themselves to billions of dollars they should not be spending. Sen. Webb believes the VA is too eager to compensate diseases just as likely caused by aging as military service. Sen. D. Akaka (D. –HI.) is the Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and has a hearing set for Sept. 23, 2010 where the VA will support their decision to compensate these newly added diseases.
The VA expected 200,000 claims in the first wave. To date, only 50,000 have been filed. Because these payments are made retroactively to the date of filing, veterans are encouraged to file as soon as possible.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.