Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New VA rule eases path for Korea vets to get health care for herbicide exposure

January 25th, 2011 6:32 pm ET

Today, the federal Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) adopted a new rule that makes it easier for veterans exposed to herbicide along the demilitarized zone in Korea (DMZ) to receive health care benefits. The rule becomes effective on February 24, 2011, and would apply to benefits claims received by the VA on or after February 24th and to those pending before the VA, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on February 24th.

Under the old rule, only veterans of certain units could receive benefits and that was limited to those units along the DMZ, which separates North and South Korea, between April 1, 1968, and July 31, 1969, where herbicides, like Agent Orange, were used. The new rule extends the time period from April 1, 1968, through August 31, 1971, and would presume that veterans were exposed to herbicides during that time period unless affirmative evidence to the contrary can be presented to overcome this presumption, such as documentation that the veteran was on leave from his or her unit during this period of time.

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