Disabled Vets: Presumptive and Non-Presumptive Illnesses Explained

When applying for Veterans disability benefits, part of the approval process involves proving that your disease, condition, or illness was caused by your active duty time in the military. That is, if you are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you must prove that it was connected to your service and not a childhood trauma, or if you are suffering from a head injury, you must prove that it was connected with your time overseas, not an old football accident.

However, it is important to note that the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has created list of “presumptive conditions” to help speed the VA disability claims process by fast-tracking those with conditions that are regularly connected with service at certain times or in certain places. For example, a Gulf War veteran who has been diagnosed with Brucellosis does not have to prove that he contracted the disease while serving, he only has to prove that he served in the war and that he has the disease. By creating a list of presumptive conditions, the VA is able to get disability benefits to former soldiers faster and more accurately – and therefore accelerate the claims process for everyone.

The list of presumptive diseases is different for different eras and different wars. For example, the list of presumptive diseases for a Vietnam vet is different than the list of presumptive diseases for a Gulf War or Iraq War vet.

For example, here is a list of presumptive diseases for a Gulf War vet:

1.    Brucellosis
2.    Campylobacter jejuni
3.    Coxiella Burnetii or Q fever
4.    Malaria
5.    Mycobacterium tuberculosis
6.    Nontyphoid Salmonella
7.    Shigella
8.    Visceral leishmaniasis
9.    West Nile virus

Non-presumptive diseases require veterans to prove that their health condition was caused or aggrevated by their service. If you are struggling to receive veterans’ disability compensation for an illness, injury, or condition that is either presumptive or non-presumptive, you may contact us with questions and concerns today. We are here to help.
Carl M. Weisbrod
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Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law