Friday, May 24, 2024
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Veterans’ Disability Benefits for Burn Pit Injury Update

For a considerable time, veterans enduring respiratory issues due to exposure to hazardous air and burning waste during their military service have faced hurdles in obtaining disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The VA lacks a specific diagnostic code for constrictive bronchiolitis (CB), a condition associated with military deployments in Southwest Asia, Afghanistan, and Djibouti post-9/11. Most medical conditions veterans experience are assessed using a four-digit code and percentage rating, determining the compensation reflecting their disability severity, crucial for compensating for lost working time due to their condition’s severity.

Due to the absence of a designated diagnostic code, most veterans with CB receive a zero disability rating and are ineligible for compensation. However, a forthcoming update to the system promises to introduce such a code, simplifying the process for veterans to receive benefits.

Joshua Jacobs, the Under Secretary for Benefits, assured that the VA is actively pursuing this update, considering it a top priority. Additionally, there are discussions about potentially adding a diagnostic code for constrictive bronchiolitis or a broader term encompassing related respiratory conditions.

Dr. Shereef Elnahal, the Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Health, elaborated on these options at a conference, indicating a potential decision between a specific code for CB or a broader term covering multiple respiratory conditions.

Anticipated revisions are expected to be published by September 30, 2024, marking the end of the fiscal year, according to insiders familiar with the discussions.

Though only a few hundred veterans have been diagnosed with CB, a fraction compared to more common respiratory ailments like COPD and asthma, diagnosing CB requires invasive lung biopsies, unlike traditional tests…

Click here for the full and original article by Dan Sagalyn at www.pbs.org

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