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From Chuck Weber, your Veteran Service Officer...
AO/BW Claims Effective Jan 1, 2020

Disability benefits for Blue Water (BW) Navy veterans now fall into the presumption category of service connection for conditions related to Agent Orange exposure, thanks to the FRA-supported, Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (H.R.299 - Public Law 116-23). The law which was signed in June will take effect Jan. 1, 2020. Addressing the issue of a long delay, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie said the postponement is designed to "ensure that we have the proper resources in place to meet the needs of our Blue Water veteran community and minimize the impact on all veterans filing for disability compensation." 

Presumptive Agent Orange conditions granted for BW Navy Veterans may be retroactive to the date the VA received their original claim. If BW veterans had a previously denied claim they must resubmit their claim, the effective date will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Veterans who served in the seas around Vietnam and were previously denied claims related to Agent Orange exposure can file new claims under the changed rules. VA officials said veterans older than age 85 or with life-threatening illnesses will have priority in claims processing.

If the claimant dies while their claim is pending, a living dependent, such as a spouse or child, may file a request to be substituted as the claimant. If the veteran served on a ship that that operated not more than 12 nautical miles from the demarcation line of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia, as defined in the new law, and the cause of death was from a condition related to exposure to Agent Orange, then the VA may award entitlement to DIC on that basis.

The VA has set up an information website for veterans and family members.


Source:  FRA NewsBytes 7/12/19 (with emphasis added)


Note – BW Vets may submit AO exposure claims immediately, but the VA will not start reviewing them until 1/1/2020.  Also, there are three new conditions that VA is considering related to AO exposure, however, VA is not yet granting presumptive status to them.  This means the veteran must prove that AO exposure caused them (which is virtually impossible to do).  Go to www.va.gov for detailed info on all of this. CW



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