An estimated 200,000 Vietnam veterans suffering from three diseases newly associated with exposure to Agent Orange are closer to receiving disability compensation following an appeals court order Aug. 2 directing the Department of Veterans Affairs to publish a final implementing regulation within 30 days.
In response to a lawsuit brought by a coalition of veterans' service organizations, the U.S. Court of Appeals instructed the VA to issue by Sept. 1 a final regulation authorizing payment of claims for ischemic heart disease, Parkinson's disease or B-cell leukemia for any veteran who stepped foot in Vietnam during the war, or their survivors.
VA has been urging veterans with these diseases to file claims immediately because payments, when they begin, will be retroactive to the filing date. VA lawyers conceded to the court that VA had missed several deadlines set in the Agent Orange Act for reviewing the latest science report and for publishing rules to expand claims eligibility to these diseases.
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