As so many of our Illinois readers know from first-hand experience, filing for disability benefits can be a frustrating process filled with complicated restrictions and confusing questions. But this process can be made even more frustrating when the agencies associated with disability benefits, such as the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs, change who can receive benefits and for what conditions.
Some of our readers might be experiencing this frustration at this very moment because of a decision that was made recently by the VA. As some of you may already know, the VA “presumes that specific disabilities diagnosed in certain veterans were caused by their military service.” A veteran who is diagnosed with a presumptive condition is therefore entitled to disability benefits. But according to the VA’s decision this month, this won’t necessarily be the case for Gulf War veterans with certain medical conditions.
For some time now, veterans advocates and certain members of Congress have made requests to include lung and brain cancer as well as migraines to the list of presumptive conditions for veterans of the Gulf War. But according to the VA, it is unable to do this because it cannot definitively conclude that the illnesses were related to military service.
It’s because of this decision that Gulf War veterans could have a more difficult time applying for and receiving disability benefits. This could mean that some veterans could be denied benefits even though their condition may be linked to military service. Without skilled representation, this could be difficult to prove. And as you can imagine, this would mean that some may not receive the compensation they deserve.
Sources: USA Today, “VA rejects link between Gulf War service and cancers,” Kelly S. Kennedy, July 7, 2014
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs, “Disability Compensation, ‘Presumptive’ Disability Benefits,” Accessed July 7, 2014