Veterans, Spouses, and Domestic Partners: What You Don’t Know About Presumptive Diseases Can Kill Your Benefits

What you don't know about VA benefits could cost you

What you don’t know about VA benefits could cost you

Many people assume new illnesses, aches, and pains are “normal.”   Just part of aging.  Or simply bad luck.  Or even genetics.  Veterans – don’t be lulled into passive acceptance of so-called common wisdom.  Diet and exercise can only get you so far with the many health problems – some tremendously serious – which may be the result of your military service.  In addition, some health issues, such as birth defects, may be results of your military service that affect not only you but your entire family.

Since serious health problems arising from military service may not manifest themselves for years, it is crucial that Veterans’ spouses, domestic partners, children, and parents all be alert to common diseases that are now understood to be related to a Veteran’s military service.  Although it has been too long in coming, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) now accepts that many diseases suffered by Veterans and their children are related to qualifying military service.  VA calls these diseases “presumptive diseases.”

What are these “presumptive diseases”?  Many of them are cancers, such as:

  • Breast cancer;
  • Prostate cancer;
  • Respiratory cancers – including lung cancer;
  • Soft tissue sarcomas;
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma;
  • Hodgkin’s Disease;
  • Ovarian Cancer; and
  • Multiple myeloma.

Other “presumptive diseases” include:

  • Arthritis;
  • Cirrhosis of the liver;
  • Diabetes Mellitus Type 2;
  • Epilepsies;
  • Hypertension;
  • Ischemic Heart Disease;
  • Lou Gehrig’s Disease; and
  • Parkinson’s Disease.

For both male and female Veterans, birth defects in your children may also be a result of exposure to toxins during your military service.  VA recognizes certain types of spinal bifida and some other birth defects as “presumptive diseases.”

What’s important to realize is that the health issues you face may not be merely the result of age, bad luck, or the popular, take-the-fight-to-the-victim phrasing, “an unhealthy lifestyle.”  No.  As VA’s “presumptive diseases” categorization now recognizes, qualifying military service is often the cause of such serious, expensive health issues.  Don’t presume your illness happened “just because.”

Since you, your spouse, your partner, your dependent children and/or your dependent parents may be eligible for VA disability compensation and health care, it makes sense to become educated about “presumptive diseases.”   Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy to understand the requirements and nuances that make a particular ailment or condition a “presumptive disease.”  Also, as you know, merely because there is a legal presumption that your disease results from your military service, VA doesn’t always see it that way.  You may be explaining your condition in perfectly clear words that all of the rest of us understand.  Sadly, if you don’t use the magic words VA requires to accept your condition as a “presumptive disease,” you may find your claim denied.

If your Veteran has already passed away, you may still be able to ensure they are ultimately vindicated with VA.  If you suspect a service-connected disability, including a “presumptive disease” was the principal or contributory cause of death, you may wish to seek further information on how best to proceed.  So-called “Dependency and Indemnity Compensation” can be complex but you can work with a VA-accredited representative or agent in presenting your claim.

Of course it is possible you already are well aware of these “presumptive diseases” but have become discouraged by VA’s denial of your service-connected benefits.  If that has happened, don’t give up!  Persistence is crucial.

If you have been denied service-connected benefits for a “presumptive disease,” don’t hesitate to contact the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. at:

Contact Information