When the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) expanded its list of Agent Orange presumptive health conditions in November 2010 to include Parkinson’s disease, Ischemic Heart Disease, and Hairy Cell and other Chronic B-Cell Leukemia, it was a hard-won victory for thousands of Vietnam-era veterans.
Though the decision added 230,000 claims to an already severe backlog of VA disability claims, another battle is won. This time, the victory is the VA’s.
VA Takes Real Claims Action
Nearly all of the presumptive Agent Orange claims have been processed. It took close to two years and nearly 36 percent of the VA’s best disability claims raters – about 1,200 employees – to tackle them. The intent to deliver benefits as quickly as possible to this group of deserving veterans has finally paid off.
In a recent VA press release, Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said, “I am proud of our VA employees who worked hard to complete these Agent Orange claims, putting over $3.6 billion into the hands of our Vietnam Veterans and their survivors.”
These experienced claims processors will now refocus their attention on reducing the overall claims backlog, which is growing at a quickening pace due to the number of veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Close to half are filing for disability benefits.
Fast-Tracking Agent Orange Claims
Note: All representation coordinated by Alpha is provided by our employees, the Advocates, who are accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). No private organization that trains and employs accredited agents has been legally recognized by the VA for the purposes of preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims. This work must be done by the Advocates themselves and not organizations.