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Veterans Exposed to Particulate Matter – Maximum VA Disability Benefits

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a less than stellar track record of addressing significant health concerns related to military service. For example, many Vietnam-era veterans had to wait for decades to get access to VA benefits and appropriate medical treatment for medical conditions presumed to be related to exposure to Agent Orange during their military service.

The Biden administration does not want to subject military veterans to the same unacceptable treatment for the current health concern about burn pits and other military chemical exposures during the Gulf War. The White House and the VA are moving forward to improve the timeliness of access to services and benefits for these people who served our country. A Michigan VA disability attorney could help veterans exposed to particulate matter seeking maximum VA disability benefits.

Health Conditions That Are the Focus of the Interim Final Rule

The VA enacted an interim final rule, effective August 5, 2021, entitled “Presumptive Service Connection for Respiratory Conditions Due to Exposure to Particulate Matter.” This rule established a presumptive service connection for these three chronic respiratory conditions:

  •       Asthma
  •       Rhinitis
  •       Sinusitis (including rhinosinusitis)

Veterans with any of these diagnoses would also need to have presumed exposure to fine particulate matter during their military service.

The Geographic and Date Requirements of the Rule

Current and future veterans of the Gulf War, also called the Persian Gulf War, can get immediate healthcare, services, and benefits if they have one of these chronic respiratory health conditions and served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations. The start date of the Gulf War was August 1990. As of the date of the interim final rule, neither Congress nor the President has established an official end date for the Gulf War.

The rule also applies to veterans who served in Afghanistan, Syria, Djibouti, or Uzbekistan on or after September 19, 2001, during the Gulf War. Current and future veterans who served in either of the qualifying theaters of operations can include those on active military, naval, or air service.

Purpose of the Rule

Typically, a veteran applying for benefits must prove service connection for the medical condition and exposure to the chemical or event that caused or contributed to the harm. The rule amends the previous VA adjudication regulations. Now, a current or former military service member who falls within the geographic and date requirements will not have to meet such a high evidentiary burden. The VA will presume that the service member or veteran had exposure to fine particulate matter and that there is a service connection for asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis. 

Maximum VA Disability Benefits

The VA assesses disability ratings in increments of 10 percent, beginning with 10 percent and going up to 100 percent. Beginning December 1, 2021, the VA will use the 2022 veterans disability compensation rates to calculate an individual veteran’s monthly payment amount.

A veteran with a disability rating of 10% or 20% will not receive a higher rate even if they have a dependent spouse, child, or parent. A veteran with a 100% disability rating can receive this amount of compensation per month:

  •       $3,332.06 for a veteran with no dependents
  •       $3,517.84 for a veteran with a spouse but no dependent parents or children
  •       $3,653.89 for a veteran with one dependent spouse and child
  •       $3,666.94 for a veteran with a spouse and one dependent parent but no children

The maximum VA disability monthly benefit for 2022 is $3,952.09 for a veteran with a 100% disability rating, one dependent child, a spouse, and two dependent parents. The VA can add on amounts for additional qualifying children and for a spouse receiving Aid and Attendance. However, there may be additional compensation based on additional criteria and benefits available. 

The VA has expressed concern that many veterans and even some VA claims adjudicators might not have up-to-date awareness of these policy changes. Your VA disability claim might get denied or never get filed for these reasons. A Michigan VA disability attorney can help you pursue the maximum amount of VA disability benefits for which you are eligible. Get in touch with our office today for legal help, we offer a free consultation and disability is all we do.