Dear Chief Service Officers,
We have had a number of questions from Veterans and service officers about the significance of August 30, 2011, the one-year anniversary of the regulation allowing the newest Agent Orange presumptive claims. Please share this explanation with our service officers in your state, if you have not already.
The new regulation that added three conditions (ischemic heart disease, parkinson’s disease, and chronic B cell blood cancers) to those presumed to be caused by Agent Orange was put into effect August 30, 2010. The one year anniversary date does not mean Veterans cannot file for those conditions after August 30, 2011. It does mean that in order to get the earliest possible effective date for payments, they should file by then.
Nehmer Veterans who filed claims before August 30, 2010 will benefit from a whole other set of rules, but for Veterans filing for the first time for service connection for IHD, Parkinson’s Disease, or B Cell Blood cancers and Hairy Cell Leukemia, they can get up to one year of retroactive benefits. The new regulation is a liberalizing law so the effective date for service connection can be a year prior to the claim date under 38 CFR § 3.114, but not earlier than the date of the law, which was effective August 30, 2010. This is assuming that the Veteran met all the criteria for service connection (had the diagnosis) on the date the law was enacted. Therefore, if a Veteran files a claim on August 30, 2011, he could get retroactive pay to August 30, 2010. If he files on September 1, 2011, he could get retroactive pay to September 1, 2010. In all cases, the diagnosis of the Agent Orange related condition would have to have been on or before August 30, 2010. If the Veteran had not filed a claim before (so does not fall under Nehmer) and was not diagnosed on or before August 30, 2010, the effective date would be the date of claim. It would be beneficial to file as soon as possible, but you can still file a claim at any time.
Deputy Director, Veterans Benefits Program
Vietnam Veterans of America