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Can Cancer be Considered Connected to Your Military Service?

Man hearing his diagnosis from a doctor

If you were diagnosed with cancer during or after your active military service, you may be eligible for disability benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, to receive these benefits, you need to prove that your medical condition is connected to an injury, illness, or event that happened while you were serving. Unfortunately, this can be a complex and challenging process.

Is Cancer Connected to Military Service?

Receiving VA disability compensation benefits for cancer requires veterans to first establish service connection.   Service-connection requires veterans to prove the following:

  • a current cancer diagnosis
  • an in-service injury, illness, or event (such as exposure)
  • a medical nexus that links the cancer to the in-service occurrence

Veterans can also be eligible for service connection for certain types of cancer on a presumptive basis due to their exposure to certain substances, such as:

  • Agent Orange
  • Other tactical herbicides
  • Depleted Uranium exposure
  • Radiation exposure
  • Water contamination
  • Burn pit exposures
  • Exposures to industrial solvents and asbestos

However, regardless of whether the disability is service-connected on a presumptive basis or not, the VA will need to review the veteran’s medical records and attend a VA compensation & pension examination (C&P exam). During this exam, the doctor will review the veteran’s records and ask about any residuals they are currently experiencing. The report will also contain a medical nexus opinion, identifying whether the healthcare professional believes the cancer is related to the service if the condition is not on the presumptive list.

Common Types of Cancer Diagnoses Among Veterans

Military man holding up a blue ribbon for cancer awareness

According to the Veterans Affairs Health Care System, the most common types of cancer diagnoses that are found among veterans include:

  • Prostate cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Colon and rectum cancer
  • Lung and bronchus cancer
  • Urinary and bladder cancer
  • Kidney and renal pelvis cancer
  • Liver cancer

Although cancer can affect anyone, studies continue to show that veterans are at a slightly higher risk of developing cancer due to their exposure to pollutants, chemicals, and radiation in service.

How Does the VA Rate Cancer?

If your cancer is determined to be service-connected by the VA, you will be given an automatic temporary disability rating of 100%. This rating will remain in effect for as long as the disease remains active and for an additional six months after the completion of the treatment program.

After a period of six months from the completion of the treatments, the VA will require you to undergo further examinations to determine the current status of your diagnosis. According to the results, a new rating will be assigned. If the examination shows that the cancer is in remission, you will be given a reduced rating based on the extent of the ongoing treatment or the residual symptoms of the disease.

Contact Veterans Benefit Group of Goodman Allen Donnelly Today

Filing a VA claim can be a complicated and tedious undertaking. Not only is there a significant amount of red tape involved with the process, but there is also a substantial amount of paperwork that needs to be filled out. That is why it can feel so defeated when a denial is issued. However, if you have received a denial for your veteran disability cancer claim, you should know you have options.

If the VA has denied your claim, contact the Veterans Benefit Group of Goodman Allen Donnelly today. Our legal team can help you with the appeals process and determine what needs to be done to prove entitlement or get the highest-disability rating you are entitled to under the law.