Applying for Disability Benefits


I was in the Navy from 1972-79. and my first ship was an ocean going minesweeper (MSO 521) 1972-75. while aboard we used TCE almost every day. I was an electricians mate. An MSO is a small ship and while out at sea and crossing the Atlantic taking a shower everyday was only a dream. once a week if lucky. Anyway, I slept , ate , and was covered with TCE most of the time
plus it was on my clothes . I also was on a Fast Frigate FF1079 and shore duty at Norfolk Naval Air Station, wher we used TCE also but at least i could shower every day and have clean clothes but still had that crap all over me all day. Breathing that stuff would make you high as a kite(in a bad way. Was not fun). I got out in 1979 and I had been noticing problems with coordination and a tremor in my right hand as far back as 1974 but never told anyone. Looking back, it was reflected in my evaluations. I just did not put two and two together.

Was officialy diagnosed in 1999 with Parkinsons Disease. I have filed a claim with the VA recently and prior to filing the claim I was talking to my neurologist and she had put in my medical record a statement stating the she believes my early onset of Parkinsons was caused by my exposure to TCE. I also have some letters from some people that i worked direcrtly under and with, Chief petty Officers and other shipmates stating the fact that I did utlize TCE most every day as did they while on board the MSO. I did not have any ones name off the Fast Frigate or my Shore duty Station. Both of those were big places and none of us ever really knew each other well enough to keep in touch. On the MSO, we were a tight knit group and stll corespond and see each other out and about.

My question is. did I send the correct stuff (Proof of exposure and a link to TCE exposure and my Parkinsons Disease) or am I gonna need more ammo ? I know it's a little late now, but I just now found this site.


Glad you found us. When you say "this site" I'm not sure which one as I publish at 4 regularly and my work is distributed by others. I'd advise that for now you concentrate on my A to Z Guide at for more data about how to win your case. You'll want to make VA Watchdog dot Org your home page so that each morning you have the latest scoop on what your VA has been up to.

After all, VA Watchdog dot Org is where the VA turns to to find out just what it's been doing.

It sounds as if you're doing everything correctly. The glitch will come if your doctor didn't phrase that letter perfectly.

Those are called "nexus letters". The point is to tie together the event (TCE Exposure) to the condition (Parkinson's). The nexus letter must come from an expert physician who has knowledge of your exposure to TCE by reviewing records and such.

The letter must have a statement that says "it is more likely than not that the veterans current condition is a result of his exposure to TCE during military service". There are other details but the "more likely than not" is an important key to winning. Any less of a statement (could have been, as likely as not) won't meet the VA demand.

You must also prove you were exposed to TCE. I was myself...not to the degree you were. I worked in an operating room in a hospital. We used steam autoclaves to sterilize instruments. The exhaust valves would become corroded with hard water mineral deposits and a part of our weekly duty was to flush and scrub the system with TCE.

I don't believe I'd be able to prove that though. Therein lies a problem for you. Your "buddy letters" may help or VA may discount them as being too vague or without proper evidence. VA is always reluctant to accept individual statements w/o other corroborating evidence. VA will sometimes accept your statement as evidence, sometimes not. It's tough to predict.

One great place that I'll bet you haven't looked is at the decisions of the BVA. Use this link to get to the site. Then use TCE as your search term. Remember to rest the date for different years as you look at BVA decisions.

You'll read conclusions like;


1. The Veteran is competent and credible to report that he
used the solvent P-D-680 during active service.

2. Evidence indicates that trichloroethylene (TCE) is found
in P-D-680.

3. The only medical opinion that addresses the matter of
etiology states that the Veteran's exposure to TCE caused his
current scleroderma.


Scleroderma, claimed as an immune system disability, was
incurred due to active service. 38 U.S.C.A. §§ 1110, 1131,
5107(b) (West 2002); 38 C.F.R. § 3.303 (2009).


The Veteran's lymphoma is causally related to
trichloroethylene (TCE) and other chemical solvent exposure
during his period of active service.


With resolution of reasonable doubt, the Veteran's lymphoma
was incurred in active duty service. 38 U.S.C.A. §§ 1110,
1131, 5107 (West 2002); 38 C.F.R. § 3.303 (2009).


As provided for by the Veterans Claims Assistance Act of 2000
(VCAA), VA has a duty to notify and assist claimants in
substantiating a claim for VA benefits. 38 U.S.C.A. §§ 5100,
5102, 5103, 5103A, 5107, 5126 (West 2002 & Supp. 2009);
38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.156(a), 3.159 and 3.326(a) (2009). In
this case, the Board is granting in full the benefit sought
on appeal. Accordingly, assuming, without deciding, that any
error was committed with respect to either the duty to notify
or the duty to assist, such error was harmless and need not
be further considered.

Service Connection

The Veteran contends that he was exposed to certain chemicals
while on active duty, including trichloroethylene (TCE) and
other chemical solvents, which caused his currently diagnosed
lymphoma. He asserts that over his 20 years of service, he
routinely came into direct contact with these chemicals in
his capacity as an aircraft armament maintenance technician.

The law provides that service connection may be granted for
disability resulting from disease or injury incurred in or
aggravated by service. 38 U.S.C.A. §§ 1110, 1131; 38 C.F.R.
§§ 3.303, 3.304. In addition, certain chronic diseases,
including malignant tumors, may be presumed to have been
incurred during service if the disorder becomes manifest to a
compensable degree within one year of separation from active
duty. 38 U.S.C.A. §§ 1101, 1112, 1113; 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.307,

There's a wealth of good information in the BVA decisions and if you find one that is very similar to yours you'll have a better idea of what the outcome may be for you.

Good luck!