VA disability compensation targets disabling illnesses or injuries and anything less will be denied

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Posted on: Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jim,

I was an Aircraft Technician in the Marines from 1988 to 1992. In 1992 I started a downward slide in my health and now have the following medical issues:

· 1992: Asthma, and other issues
· 2001: Large lipoma removed from submandibular gland in neck
· 2001: Psoriasis
· 2002: Sleep apnea
· 2010: Diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis (numerous forms) symptoms started much earlier than 2010
· etc


During my time in the Marines I used trichloroethylene and PD680 on a regular basis to degrease parts on aircraft and after researching the chemical I have determined that it could very well have been the trigger to all or some of my problems. Do you have any insight on how to address this to the VA? Is it too late to file a disability claim?


Reply:

It's never too late to file a claim for any disability. If you reasonably believe that a condition you suffer today was caused by or aggravated by military service you should seek disability compensation.

You can try going to http://www.vawatchdogtoday.org/BVA.html and following the instructions and hints there. By doing that you can see how past decisions were made for these conditions you want to claim.

The problem you face is pretty routine. Using TCE and PD680 was something a great many of us experienced. TCE in particular was everywhere that Cosmoline was and that was everywhere. I used TCE to clean autoclaves in the surgery suites I worked in.

TCE has never reached the status of chemicals like Agent Orange. It isn't "presumptive" for anything. That means that you must establish a direct cause for your conditions. To do that requires that you first prove that you were exposed to TCE and/or PD680, how often and when.

Then you need a medical expert who has reviewed your files to clearly state that "it is more likely than not that the veterans claimed conditions were caused by exposure to these chemicals...".

You face a steep uphill battle. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) affects many of us as we age. Unless you have evidence that you suffered OSA while on active duty or within a year of ETS, it's unlikely that you will be able to connect that condition to your service.

I don't recall any cases that would service connect a benign lipoma or any of the other conditions you claim to chemical exposure.

As before, you are encouraged to claim any condition that you reasonably believe is connected to your military service.

On the other hand, I advise veterans to carefully consider that filing claims that have no apparent connection to military service and are more likely due to the normal process of aging can waste time and money. For example, the benign lipoma you claim may not actually be disabling to any degree. Just having a condition does not mean that the condition has disabled you.

VA disability compensation targets disabling illnesses or injuries and anything less will be denied.

 

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