What is a Presumptive?
When veterans with similar experiences have higher rates of certain types of illnesses, the federal government may create a presumptive for that illness. By doing so, they “presume” that the illness was caused by the military service.
This is easier to understand by looking at an example. It was discovered that veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange have a statistically greater likelihood for developing prostate cancer. Since Agent Orange was used widely in Vietnam, and any veteran who served in or around Vietnam was likely exposed to Agent Orange, the VA will presume that any prostate cancer found in a Vietnam Veteran was caused by Agent Orange. This decreases the burden on the veteran, as they don’t have to prove that they were exposed to Agent Orange or that their prostate cancer was a result of Agent Orange.
For more information on the environmental hazards that have contributed to many of the current presumptives, visit the visit the VA’s Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards Website.
If I Have a Presumptive Condition, Should I Still Get the Assistance of a Service Officer to Apply for Disability?
Yes. Having a presumptive will make the application easier, but we still recommend veterans retain an accredited service officer to assist them.
- American Legion Veteran Service Officer (Office at White River Junction) - (802) 296-5166
- Disabled American Veterans Veteran Service Officer (Office at White River Junction) - (802) 296-5167
- Veterans of Foreign Wars Veteran Service Officer (Office at White River Junction) - (802) 296-5168
- Vietnam Veterans of America (Various Locations Statewide) - (603) 283-3164
- State of Vermont Veteran Service Officer Program (Travels Statewide) - (888) 666-9844
What are the Current Presumptives?
Below are the categories of veterans who have presumptives established.
If a veteran is diagnosed with chronic diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes, or hypertension, within one year of their release from active duty, the VA will presume that the condition originated during military service.
The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances.
The PACT Act adds to the list of health conditions that we assume (or “presume”) are caused by exposure to these substances. This law helps us provide generations of Veterans—and their survivors—with the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve.
Please visit here https://www.va.gov/resources/the-pact-act-and-your-va-benefits/ for more information.
Airborne Hazards (aka Burn Pits):
“Airborne hazard” refers to any sort of contaminant or potentially toxic substance that we are exposed to through the air we breathe. While on active duty, military service members may have been exposed to a variety of airborne hazards including:
- The smoke and fumes from open burn pits
- Sand, dust, and particulate matter
- General air pollution common in certain countries
- Fuel, aircraft exhaust, and other mechanical fumes
- Smoke from oil well fires
Click to expand the map of countries and bodies of water currently included in the VA Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry.
VA understands that many Veterans are especially concerned about exposure to the smoke and fumes generated by open burn pits.
In Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas of the Southwest Asia theater of military operations, open-air combustion of trash and other waste in burn pits was a common practice. The Department of Defense has now closed out most burn pits and is planning to close the remainder.
These cancers are now presumptive:
- Brain cancer
- Gastrointestinal cancer of any type
- Head cancer of any type
- Kidney cancer
- Lymphatic cancer of any type
- Lymphoma of any type
- Neck cancer of any type
- Pancreatic cancer
- Reproductive cancer of any type
- Respiratory (breathing-related) cancer of any type
These illnesses are now presumptive:
- Asthma that was diagnosed after service
- Chronic bronchitis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Chronic rhinitis
- Chronic sinusitis
- Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
- Granulomatous disease
- Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
- Pulmonary fibrosis
Vietnam Veterans and Agent Orange
If a Vietnam Veteran has any of the following conditions, the VA will presume that the condition was caused by exposure to Agent Orange.
- Hodgkin's Disease
- Multiple Myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
- Acute and Subacute Peripheral Neuropathy
- Prostate Cancer
- Respiratory Cancers
- Soft-tissue Sarcoma
- Diabetes Mellitus (Type II)
- AL Amyloidosis
- B Cell Leukemias, such as Hairy Cell Leukemia
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Ischemic Heart Disease
- Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
For more information about Agent Orange, visit the VA’s website, Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards or call the VA’s Agent Orange Program.
- VA Agent Orange Program - (800) 749-8387
Former Prisoners of War
Veterans who were former prisoners of war also have presumptive conditions, some of which are listed below.
If a former POW, regardless of the amount of time they were held in captivity, has any of the following conditions, the VA will presume that the condition was caused by their captivity.
- Dysthymic disorder, or depressive neurosis
- Post-traumatic osteoarthritis
- Any of the Anxiety States
- Cold Injury
- Stroke and complications
- Heart Disease and complications
If a former POW who was held for 30 or more days has any of the following conditions, the will presume that the condition was caused by their captivity.
- Chronic Dysentery
- Malnutrition, including associated Optic Atrophy deficiency
- Peptic Ulcer Disease
- Cirrhosis of the Liver
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Pellagra and any other nutritional deficiency
- Peripheral Neuropathy, except where directly related to infectious causes
More information can be found at the VA’s American Former Prisoners of War Website. In addition, the White River Junction VA Medical Center has a Former Prisoner of War Coordinator.
- White River Junction Former Prisoner of War Coordinator - (866) 687-8387, extension 5362
Veterans exposed to radiation from atomic weapons, fallout, and nuclear reactors also have presumptive conditions. There are 21 different types of cancers related to exposure to radiation. We recommend any veteran who was exposed to radiation and later develops cancer to apply for Disability Compensation. For more information, visit the visit the VA’s Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards Website.
Gulf War Illness
In 2009 three presumptives for Gulf War Illness were identified. In addition to these presumptives, Gulf War Veterans may receive Disability Compensation for chronic disabilities from undiagnosed or medically unexplained illnesses. Examples of these are headaches, skin disorders, muscle pain, joint pain, respiratory disturbances, gastrointestinal disturbances, etc. Gulf War veterans with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, should also apply for Disability Compensation. For more information, visit the visit the VA’s Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards Website.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
- Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- VA Gulf War Veterans Help Line (800) 749-8387
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a presumptive condition for veterans with 90 days or more of continuously active service in the military. Any veteran with ALS should apply for Disability Compensation.