Rare Cancers to be Added to Presumed Service-Connected List

March 3, 2022

Updates to Presumed Service-Connected List

On March 1st, The VA made an announcement of its intentions to add nine rare respiratory cancers to the list of presumed service-connected disabilities, which are conditions presumably caused by military service that occurred under unique circumstances. These are in relation to exposure from toxic chemicals in the air, soil or water and would apply to veterans who served any amount of time in Southwest Asia theater of operations (Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates).

Note, these are proposed rule changes. These conditions have not been added to the list of presumptive conditions, but rather, will be soon after the administrative rule process is complete. 

List of Respiratory Cancers

If you have been previously denied for any of the below respiratory cancers, the VA encourages you to file a new or supplemental claim for benefits once the rule-making process is complete: 

  • Large cell carcinoma of the lung
  • Salivary gland-type tumors of the lung
  • Sarcomatoid carcinoma of the lung
  • Typical and atypical carcinoid of the lung
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the larynx/voice box/glottis
  • SCC of the trachea
  • Adenocarcinoma of the trachea
  • Salivary gland-type tumors of the trachea
  • Adenosquamous carcinoma of the lung

Through scientific and medical evidence, it has been determined that there’s a biological probability between airborne hazards, specifically particulate matter, and carcinogenesis of the airway, and that the distinctive circumstances of these rare cancers warrant a presumption of service connection. 

What Does This Mean for Veterans?

Any veteran who had one of these cancers manifest to a degree of 0% or more at any time during or after separation would be eligible for service-connection. 

The intent is for the VA to focus its rule on the rare respiratory cancers listed above in Veterans who have served any amount of time in the Southwest Asia theater of operations and other locations.  

Once rule-making is complete, the VA will conduct outreach to impacted Veterans and survivors to inform them about possible entitlement. 

VA Secretary Denis McDonough, said, “This is the right decision. The rarity and severity of these illnesses, and the reality that these conditions present a situation where it may not be possible to develop additional evidence prompted us to take this critical action, “We’ll continue to hold ourselves accountable to Veterans to provide more care, more benefits and more services to more Veterans than ever before.” 

Contact the Experienced Veteran Benefits Team at the Law Office of Andrew P. Gross

Claiming for these conditions could be slightly complicated and ongoing, if you have been denied VA disability benefits or want to make sure that you receive the benefits you deserve, contact a seasoned Veterans Advocacy lawyer at the Law Office of Andrew P. Gross.