VA Burn Pit Disability

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VA Burn Pit Disability | VA Disability Law

Burn pits are causing health conditions and cancers in many veterans. Health conditions due to hazards during military service entitles you to monthly VA disability compensation.

Almost 20 years after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and 30 years since the Gulf War, nearly 80% of all burn pit claims were receiving denials in 2020. At least half of those were due to a lack of evidence linking their health conditions to exposure during deployment.

The Veterans Administration now understands how dangerous the burn pit method of disposal is to troops. Depending on your condition, you may qualify for disability benefits under a presumptive condition, even if previously denied.

We will share information about burn pits, the health conditions they create, and how to receive compensation for your disability from the VA.

What Are Burn Pits?

What is a burn pit? You might ask this question unless serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, or other overseas locations before the mid-2010s. Burn pit use overseas was common for disposing of waste on military bases. Items burned include chemicals, medical waste, rubber, and plastic, creating toxic smoke.

In Iraq, one pit was about 10 acres in size, resulting in an ongoing massive fire blowing toxic smoke over the entire base. The Department of Defense now realizes that about 3.5 million troops from Iraq and other wars may have health problems resulting from their exposure to burn pit smoke.

The military has not eliminated burn pit use. In 2019 there were at least nine burn pits still in use. If serving in overseas locations after the above wars, you may still experience burn pit exposure problems.

Symptoms of Burn Pit Exposure

There are both long-term and short-term symptoms of exposure to airborne smoke. A study by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies reveals 100 to 200 tons of waste being disposed of daily using burn pits in Iraq at Joint Base Balad. There were at least five chemicals found in the burn smoke veterans breathed.

The long-term effects include conditions with the gastrointestinal tract, peripheral nervous system, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, central nervous system, kidneys, liver, eyes, respiratory system, and skin.

Burn Pits Registry

Both active duty service members and veterans can sign the VAs Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. The burn pit registry began in 2014 to help the VA understand the health effects of airborne hazard exposure during military service.

Eligibility to sign the registry requires active duty during New Dawn (OND), Iraqi Freedom/Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF), or Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield (ODS). The VA encourages participation even if you are still on active duty or have no symptoms.

VA Disability Eligibility

To qualify for VA disability compensation, you need to meet all three of the following:

  1. Your diagnosis or health conditions are due to exposure to a specific toxic hazard in the air, water, or soil, and
  2. You were on active duty in a location exposing you to that hazard, and
  3. You were not dishonorably discharged

If you qualify for disability compensation, you may also be eligible for additional benefits, including VA health care.

The VA now has presumptive conditions, meaning one established under a law or regulation. When your diagnosis falls under this category, your service requirement establishes the presumption of connection.

Curious about what disability benefits you could receive from the VA? Contact Wettermark Keith today for your free consultation!

PACT Act For Veterans

The VA has twenty or more burn pits and other toxic exposure areas meeting presumptive ranking. This is due to the Sergeant First Class Health Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022 (PACT Act).

The Act makes 12 kinds of cancer and 13 health conditions presumptive following toxic exposure, including burn pits, during military service.

You qualify as having a presumption of exposure to burn pits if you were on active duty on or after September 11, 2001, in any of the following areas:

  • Afghanistan
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Syria
  • Uzbekistan
  • Yemen

Qualification includes serving in the airspace above any of these locations. You also qualify for presumptive exposure if your service on or after August 2, 1990, was at:

  • Bahrain
  • Iraq
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • The United Aram Emirates (UAE)

Qualification includes service in the airspace above any of these locations.

If Burn Pit Victims Receive a Denial

If you are a denial recipient and your condition is now presumptive, you may file a supplemental claim. Veterans can re-open the claim if your denial was long ago and the case is closed. It is helpful to know the reason why you were denied.

Common reasons for a VA denial include:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • No diagnosis/unconfirmed diagnosis
  • Wrong diagnosis
  • No service treatment for the claimed conditions
  • No continuity of treatment
  • No nexus or link between your service and the current diagnosis

A nexus links the in-service injury or conditions and the current diagnosis or condition. The VA must find it as least as likely as not that your current condition was caused or aggravated by your service.

To re-open a claim, you need to provide new evidence. It must also be material, meaning it must address the reason for the original denial.

New evidence can be something as simple as a statement from them describing their symptoms or an incident, or even a new theory of entitlement is treated as new evidence. You do not have to obtain actual new medical evidence for us to help with your denial.

For advice on appealing your denial, consult with a VA disability appeals attorney. They have the experience and knowledge of the laws to help you receive disability compensation.

Denials After February 19, 2019

The legacy VA appeals process is now the decision review process. If you are not in agreement with a VA decision made on or after February 19, 2019, you have three options:

  1. Supplemental Claim
  2. Higher-Level Review
  3. Board Appeal

You can file a supplemental claim if you have relevant new evidence the VA didn't have when deciding your case.

A higher-level review means a more senior reviewer will evaluate your case. You cannot provide any new evidence; this assesses the existing file only.

You may also appeal the decision to the Board of Veterans Appeals. A Veterans Law Judge in Washington, D.C., will review your case. You may request a Board Appeal after filing a supplemental claim or higher-level review.

Appeals must be within one year of the decision letter.

Board Appeal Options

When requesting a board appeal, you have three options. Consult with a VA appeals attorney who understands each process's pros and cons.

1. Direct Review Appeal

A Veterans Law Judge reviews the evidence you previously submitted and makes a decision. You may not submit any new evidence; there is no hearing. This process takes approximately one year.

2. Evidence Submission

This option allows you to submit new evidence for the Veterans Law Judge to review. You must submit new evidence within 90 days of the VA's receipt of your board appeal request. This process will take approximately 550 days or 1-1/2 years.

3. Request a Hearing

This option allows you to add new evidence, which you present at a hearing or within 90 days of a hearing. The hearing you attend is transcribed and becomes part of your appeal file.

You will have three options for presenting to the judge. You can select a virtual hearing from your home, a video-conference hearing from a VA office near you, or an in-person hearing in Washington, DC. You pay any travel costs to attend in person.

The hearing option takes about 730 days or two years to complete.

Which Burn Pit Conditions Are Now Presumptive?

Since the PACT Act went through, there is now a considerable list of conditions that are considered presumptive, which means that they are presumed to have been caused by your time in service. This list is substantial and means that many veterans and burn pit victims with disabilities are now able to claim VA disability benefits when they may have been unsuccessful before.

The following conditions are considered a presumptive disability or illness for veterans with exposure to burn pits during their time in military service:

  • Brain cancer
  • Gastrointestinal cancer of any type
  • Glioblastoma
  • Head cancer of any type
  • Kidney cancer
  • Neck cancer of any type
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Any type of reproductive cancer
  • Any type of respiratory cancer
  • Lymphatic cancer of any type
  • Lymphoma of any type
  • Melanoma
  • Asthma that was diagnosed after exposure
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic rhinitis
  • Granulomatous disease
  • Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
  • Pleuritis

If you suffer from any of the illnesses or diseases in this presumptive conditions list after exposure to a military burn pit, they are presumed connected with your exposures, and you should be eligible to claim disability for the cost of health care, medical expenses, and other adjustments that you and your family have had to make as a result of your condition or conditions.

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burn pit veterans DISABILITY


The amount of disability benefits or compensation that you could receive as a result of your burn pit claims depends on the extent of your illness and the cost to yourself of conditions from burn pits. For example, in general, the settlements for burn pit sinusitis might be lower than the settlements for serious cancers, although both conditions can be life-altering.

To be eligible for VA burn pit disability compensation, all of the following must be true: 

  • You have a diagnosed illness or health condition that is the result of burn pit exposure;

  • You served on active duty in one of the burn pit locations listed above; and

  • You didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge from the military.

If you meet all of these requirements and you suffer from one of the presumptive conditions listed above, you could be eligible to claim veterans’ benefits and disability compensation from the VA. 

Why Choose Wettermark Keith?

At Wettermark Keith, we work with veterans and their families across the US to secure compensation and benefits for service men and women with long-term health conditions and injuries due to their time in service.

We’re experts in VA law and settlements, and our work has already helped hundreds of veterans to claim for primary and secondary illnesses as a result of their time in service. We help veterans across the US to prove that their long-term health conditions and disability are a direct result of open burn pit exposure and conditions in the burn pits.

With a vast range of resources at our disposal, we can maximize your chances of a successful settlement. We work closely with clients to establish the facts of the case and use our expert legal knowledge to reach a settlement that’s fair.

We can take on your case even if you’ve had a disability claim denied before. Contact us at (877) 715-9300 to learn more about our burn pit exposure disability lawsuits and book your free consultation today through our online form.

Burn Pits - VA Appeals for Exposure

If you file for VA disability from exposure to burn pits and receive a denial, contact Wettermark Keith Veterans Disability LawyersWe are up-to-date on the latest changes to VA disability law and can provide you with advice and resources on all your VA appeals needs.

We're different because we truly care about our clients. We sympathize with veterans' daily struggles and do everything in our power to provide them with the compensation they deserve.

Don't hesitate to call (877) 715-9300 today for a free consultation to see what type of disability benefits you can receive.

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