Posted by Gregory M. Rada | December 1, 2023 | Firm News
Are you a veteran who served in the Blue Waters of Vietnam during the Vietnam War (i.e., within 12 nautical miles of the coast of Vietnam)? Understanding the effective dates of claims under the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act is crucial, especially if you previously filed a claim for a presumptive condition related to Agent Orange exposure and were denied. This blog post offers vital insights into how these effective dates are determined so that you can maximize your retroactive benefits.
The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 significantly expanded benefits for veterans exposed to Agent Orange offshore of Vietnam. Prior to the Act, VA recognized that veterans who served on the ground in Vietnam or on its inland waterways were exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides, and thus were eligible for certain VA benefits if they suffered from diseases linked to these chemicals. However, those who served offshore were not granted the same presumption of exposure.
The Blue Water Act made it so that if a veteran served within the 12 nautical miles of Vietnam, they were afforded the same presumption of exposure to Agent Orange. For example, if a veteran served on an aircraft carrier that came within 12 miles of Vietnam, they are presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange.
A critical aspect of the Blue Water Act is its impact on the effective dates of disability claims that VA denied prior to the Act. Many veterans wonder, “What happens if I filed a claim for an Agent Orange-related condition before the Blue Water Act and was denied, but then granted under the new Act?”
Importantly, the Blue Water Act makes it so that the effective date in such cases may be the date of the initial, previously denied claim. This provision is vital for veterans seeking retroactive benefits, which can often be substantial.
For example, lets say that in 2004 a veteran filed a claim for one of the presumptive Agent Orange conditions, such as prostate cancer or diabetes, and VA denied that claim because VA found the veteran was not exposed to Agent Orange because they did not have boots on the ground in Vietnam.
Then, in 2022, the veteran reopens that claim and wins service connection because VA now recognizes that they were exposed to Agent Orange via the Blue Water Act and their service within 12 nautical miles of Vietnam. The effective date for the grant of service connection in a case like this would be 2004.
Veterans impacted by the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act should pay close attention to the effective date of their claims, particularly if they have a history of denied claims for Agent Orange-related conditions. The VA does not always correctly apply effective dates in these situations, and a veteran could be missing out on a significant amount of backpay.
If you’re seeking clarity on the effective date of your Blue Water claim or have questions about your eligibility and rights under the Act, our experienced legal team is here to assist. Contact us for personalized support and expert guidance on navigating your Blue Water Navy Veterans Act claim.
Gregory Rada is an Air Force veteran that helps veterans nationwide receive the benefits to which they are entitled. He works with all his clients one-on-one from the start of their case to the end and never hands them off to case managers or paralegals. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.