The VA disability rating for cancer is meant to assign a “score” to the disability of a Veteran so they can then be compensated for their service-related ailments.
It’s estimated that 3% of all cancer diagnoses in the United States happen at a VA hospital. This equivalates to about 40,000 cases per year.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer after serving in the military, it’s safe to say that you are not alone.
Let’s dive a little deeper to see what types and causes of cancer may be a result of service-related activities, the rating the VA usually assigns to cancer, as well as the answer to some common questions on the subject.
Cancer and Service-Related Disability
When you are serving your country, you don’t think about the risk of what you are doing as you are doing it.
You’re just focused on doing what is best to protect your country.
Unfortunately, unexpected exposures to toxins and radiation can result in cancer forming in various parts of your body.
Exposures to nuclear-powered ships and bombs, nerve and chemical gasses, Agent Orange and other herbicides, asbestos, and contaminated water are some of the things that can result in a later cancer diagnosis.
It is important that proper medical records are kept during and after your time in the service.
These records will be used by your doctor in order to write a nexus letter that will help to connect your time in the service to your cancer diagnosis so you will be eligible for VA disability.
What Types of Cancer Can Be Service-Related?
Types of service-connected cancers can vary widely depending on which part of the world you served in and the types of exposure you experienced.
Radiation and nuclear exposure may cause:
- Bone cancer
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Bladder cancer
Nerve gas and chemical weapon exposure may cause:
- Brain cancers
- Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Lung cancer
- Bronchus cancer
Asbestos exposure may cause:
- Lung cancer
Contaminated water may cause:
- Multiple Myeloma
- Liver Cancer
- Bladder Cancer
These lists are not a full list of what can be caused by service-related exposure to contaminants.
It is important to seek a medical exam for a proper diagnosis.
How Does the VA Rate Cancer?
An active cancer that has been service-connected via a nexus letter is very likely to get a 100 disability rating from the VA according to §4.117 Schedule of ratings—hematologic and lymphatic systems.
This rating, once proven, will stay in place during the treatment of the cancer, and then for six months after.
Once that six months is up, an examination will take place in which your situation will be reassessed.
It is important to note that some types of cancer are presumptive based on what tour and country you served in (for example, Agent Orange used during the Vietnam war is known to cause cancer). You will not need a connection to prove these are service-based.
Please speak with your doctor for more information on these special-case circumstances.
What If I Had a Cancer Diagnosis Before Service?
Pre-existing conditions are not eligible for VA disability claims, as they were not caused by your time in the service.
If a pre-existing condition is aggravated further by your service, you may be able to claim disability.
In the case of cancer, you would likely need to show a clean bill of health when entering the service, and then stating a specific exposure case that resulted in the same or different cancer occurring.
Again, a doctor should be able to write out the connection in a nexus letter that will help your case of being approved for VA disability for your cancer diagnosis.
How Much Money Will I Receive?
Disability payment amounts depend on your marital status as well as how many dependents you are caring for.
These payment amounts are set out in the Veterans Disability Compensation Rates chart on the VAs website.
Here is a summary of the 2021 monthly rates for a 100% disability rating with the VA (based on dependent status):
1 child only: $3,263.74
1 child and spouse: $3,450.32
1 child, spouse, and 1 parent: $3,591.11
1 child, spouse, and 2 parents: $3,731.90
1 child and 1 parent: $3,404.53
1 child and 2 parents: $3,545.32
Additional amounts can be added for additional children under 18, children over 18 in school, and more.
Check out the VA website for more details.
Hire a Qualified VA Lawyer Today
If you need help with an appeal or you have been denied a VA disability claim, contacting a personal injury lawyer may be your next step.
VanDerGinst Law will offer you a free consultation to explore your case. It is our mission to help those to whom we owe a debt of gratitude, including those members of our military and veterans.
That means it is part of our mission to help you get the best result for your VA disability case.
We would be honored to help.