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VA Agent Orange Claims Retroactive: A federal appeals court in San Francisco has ruled that Vietnam vets who contacted prostrate cancer and diabetes related to Agent Orange exposure should receive retroactive disability benefits dated to the time they first filed a claim with the VA.
The ruling of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sets a legal precedent that could extend to a wide range of illnesses associated with herbicides.
The appeals court decision let stand a lower court ruling that held the VA incorrectly interpreted regulations to deny retroactive payments to vets who filed claims after early 1994. A DEC 1999 U.S. District Court ruling held that all Vietnam veteran prostrate cancer claimants and their survivors are entitled to retroactive benefits to the date of their first filing of their claim for service connection or survivor’s benefits (as long as the prostrate claim was not final before 25 SEP 1985).
Also upheld by the appeals court was a provision in a 2000 ruling by US District Judge Thelton Henderson, ordering the VA to provide retroactive payments to the estates of veterans who died before the VA paid the money they were owed.
In addition to the prostrate cancer, the appeals ruling also affects veterans who filed for adult-onset, or Type 2, diabetes which was added to the list in 2000.
The VA still has the right to further appeal this decision. [Source: DAV Magazine May/JUN 2002]