Ischemic heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and B-cell leukemia are the latest three diseases to be added to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) presumptive disease list. The Congressional review period for Agent Orange claims ended on October 30, 2010, with Congress deciding not to prevent the 3 diseases from being added to the presumptive list. Vietnam veterans were looking for their first compensation checks now that all roadblocks have been seemingly removed. Like everything with the VA, however, things take time.
The VA’s first payments did hit the mail last week, but claims based on those 3 most recently added diseases only amounted to approximately 1300 claims, totaling about $8 million. The issue has now become the length of time it is going to take the VA to figure out the complex subject matter of retroactive payments. If the VA’s current plan pans out, they will be issuing disability rating decisions and checks on a weekly basis. What they will not be doing, however, is issuing floods of checks at a time.
The VA plans on paying approximately 163,000 claims associated with these 3 diseases. Their current schedule has them processing and paying all of these claims by October, 2011. This isn’t exactly how veterans thought the payments were going to happen. Because of the VA’s computer system, they could not assign a disability rating to any of the claims before that 60 day waiting period lapsed.
Not unexpectedly, the VA does not have all the information it needs to rate and process retroactive disability claims, some of which date back 25 years. They are also attempting to establish time lines for individual diseases and their progressions as ratings will be dependent on this information.
It is unclear how many claims will need this information, but the next year will likely be a very watched one as veterans and the VA will continue their battle over disability compensation payments, albeit on a new battlefield.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact LaVan & Neidenberg. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.