Can You Get VA Disability Rating for Cancer?

Getting disability benefits for cancer from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can be a complex and time-consuming process, especially if the cancer is not included on the list of presumptive cancers from exposure. To improve your chances of getting the benefits you deserve, it may be beneficial to work with a VA disability attorney who can guide you through the process.

To qualify for a service-connected cancer rating, you must have a current cancer diagnosis and establish a medical nexus linking the cancer to your service. If your cancer is not on the VA’s list of presumptive cancers, the VA may deny your claim for cancer if you fail to provide all necessary information or leave out important details.

agent orange spray

Presumptive List of Cancers

  • Veterans who served in Vietnam are assumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange, which is known to cause various cancers.
  • Veterans who served in hazardous locations during specific time periods and have been diagnosed with a type of cancer that is considered presumptively linked to the exposure may receive disability benefits.
  • The VA assumes that the cancer was caused by the veteran’s service and presumptive exposure.
  • Some cancers that are presumptively linked to exposure include Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and prostate cancer.
  • Veterans with a presumptive cancer diagnosis may receive 100% disability benefits while undergoing treatment.

Poverty Threshold and TDIU

If you receive TDIU benefits, the VA will monitor your income to ensure that it does not exceed the poverty line. The poverty line changes annually and is determined by the U.S. Department of Commerce. In 2022, the poverty line for a single person is $13,590, while spouses and dependents can alter the threshold. If your income exceeds the threshold, the VA may review and reduce your benefits. It is important to keep track of your income and report any changes to the VA to avoid losing your TDIU benefits.

What are the Most Common Service-Related Cancer Types? 

There are numerous cancers that may be considered service-related. Some of the most common include: 

  • Exposure to Agent Orange or other tactical herbicides.
  • Exposure to radiation.
  • Exposure to depleted uranium.
  • Exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
  • Exposure to burn pits.
  • Exposure to asbestos and industrial solvents.

Cancer and VA Rating: How it Works

Upon diagnosis of cancer, veterans are given a 100 percent disability rating by the VA due to the significant functional impact and potentially incurable nature of the disease. This rating entitles the veteran to monthly payments during active treatment. 

Once the cancer enters remission, the VA evaluates the long-term effects of cancer and its treatment and assigns a rating based on these residuals. For instance, a veteran who underwent a prostatectomy may receive a rating based on the severity of common side effects such as urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.

How Difficult is it To Get a Service Connection for Cancer?

If you’re a veteran who has been diagnosed with cancer, there are a few different ways to establish a connection between your cancer and your military service in order to qualify for disability benefits from the VA. 

One common method is through presumptive exposure, where the VA assumes that certain veterans who served in certain areas during certain time periods were exposed to something that could later cause cancer. If your cancer is on the VA’s list of presumptive cancers, you simply need to apply for disability benefits and identify your in-service exposure as the cause.

However, if your cancer is not on the presumptive list or if you suspect that some other in-service event, illness, or injury caused your cancer, you’ll need to provide a current diagnosis (or residuals of a cancer in remission) and a medical nexus linking your cancer to your active duty period. Regardless of whether your cancer is presumptive or non-presumptive, you’ll need to submit your medical records and attend a C&P exam, where a doctor will review your medical history and evaluate your current condition or residuals. The C&P report will also contain a medical nexus opinion, which will identify whether the doctor believes your cancer is related to your service.

If you need help applying for benefits, or if you’ve already been denied, give us a call today.

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