VA puts hold on new Agent Orange claims

VA issued instructions Oct. 30 to its regional offices, ordering them to stay the adjudication of all claims seeking presumptive service connection for B-cell leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and/or ischemic heart disease, until final regulations are published in the Federal Register.

American Legion service officers have been directed to file presumptive claims immediately for such medical conditions, without waiting for the completion of the regulation process.

Also, VA will not automatically reopen a previously denied and final claim, so Legion service officers have been advised to review the files of veterans whose claims for such conditions have been finally denied, and proceed with reopening procedures.

Presumptive claims for these conditions that have been denied – but not yet finally denied – should be brought to the attention of VA adjudication personnel for identification and action consistent with the current stay.

It is important to note that this stay only applies to the adjudication of claims, for the aforementioned conditions, based on Agent Orange/herbicide presumption, and not claims where the evidence warrants the grant of service condition on a direct basis.

Therefore, Legion service officers should keep tabs on open claims with evidence that would enable the claim to be granted on a direct basis. This ensures that such claims are not erroneously placed in the stay.