The use of burn pits was a common way to get rid of waste at military sites in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many veterans are suffering from long-term health problems due to their burn pit exposure while in military service. Today, we will discuss VA disability benefits for burn pit exposure.
Can I get VA Disability for Burn Pits?
If you served in a burn pit-exposed area during the Gulf War and then later received a diagnosis of a certain medical condition, you may be eligible for VA disability compensation for that diagnosed medical condition. You cannot receive veterans benefits for “burn pit exposure” or “burn pit compensation” alone.
Where were Burn Pits veterans?
In order to receive VA disability benefits, you would need to prove that your disability was caused by your exposure. If you served in the following military operations, you may have been exposed to burn pits:
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation New Dawn
- Djibouti, Africa on or after September 11, 2001
- Operation Desert Storm or Operation Desert Shield
- Southwest Asia theater of Operations on or After August 2, 1990
What are the presumptive conditions for burn pits?
Like we mentioned above, you cannot receive benefits for Burn Pits alone but you must show that you have a disability that can be tied back to your Burn Pits exposure. Since late 2021, there are three medical conditions that were officially recognized as presumptive to Burn Pits exposure by VA:
Burn Pits VA Disability Rating
The VA will assign a rating using the rating schedule each condition that is claimed in relation to burn pit exposure. For example, if a veteran is claiming VA disability compensation benefits for a respiratory condition or other health concerns, then the VA will use the rating schedule that corresponds with respiratory conditions.
So, in other words, your burn pits “rating” will be based on the severity of your symptoms that can be shown to have worsened or directly caused by the burn pits. VA will look at the rating criteria of the corresponding condition you are claiming which could range from 10% to 100%, with disability ratings at 100% receiving compensation of over $3,000 a month.
For years, the VA had not previously recognized any illnesses as officially presumed to be related to service in Iraq or Afghanistan due to toxic exposure but that has been changing in recent years.
Common Symptoms of Burn Pits Exposure
Some medical conditions and illnesses that may be related to burn pit exposure include but are not limited to:
- Skin conditions
- Chronic bronchitis
- Respiratory conditions
- Pulmonary conditions
- Cardiovascular conditions
- Cancer (lung, brain, skin, leukemia, and lymphoma)
- Sleep apnea
- Neurological problems
Does the Military Still Use Burn Pits?
So far, the military is still using burn pits as a “last resort” to get rid of waste (human waste, garbage, chemicals, and anything you can think of).. There are currently nine burn pit sites in operation.
The military mostly uses clean-burning incinerators, instead of burn pits. As of March 2019, all of the U.S. sanctioned burn pits are in the Middle East and are under military control in Syria, Afghanistan, and in Egypt.
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