Court ruling a victory for Agent Orange claims.
The appeals court decision let stand a lower court ruling that held the VA incorrectly interpreted regulations to deny retroactive payments to veterans who filed claims after early 1994.
A December 1999 U.S. District Court ruling held that all Vietnam veteran prostate cancer claimants or their survivors are entitled to retroactive benefits to the date of the first filing of their claim for service connection or survivor's benefits (as long as the prostate cancer claim was not final before Sept. 25, 1985).
Also upheld by the appeals court was a provision in a 2000 ruling by U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, ordering the VA to provide retroactive payments to the estates of veterans who died before the VA paid the money they were owed.
In addition to prostate cancer, the appeals court ruling also affects veterans who filed claims for adult-onset, or Type 2, diabetes, which was added to the list in 2000.
"This landmark ruling is a victory for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange," said Washington Headquarters Executive Director David W. Gorman. "The government has shortchanged these veterans for years and should pay the retroactive disability benefits they are owed."
It is unknown whether the VA will appeal this decision.
RELATED ARTICLE: Panel backs off from agent orange finding.
A review of scientific data has failed to support all earlier report linking exposure to Agent Orange among Vietnam veterans to a rare form of Leukemia in their children, according to the federal Institute of Medicine (IOM).
The IOM report issued in February reverses a year-old finding by the same scientists that prompted Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi to seek legislation authorizing the VA to begin setting up benefits for those veterans' children.
In an April 2001 report, the IOM said there was limited or suggestive" evidence that a parent's exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War may read to a child contracting acute myelogenous leukemia. About 500 to 1,000 children of Vietnam veterans are believed to have the disease.
Last year's IOM assessment relied heavily on the work of Australian researchers who later discovered errors in their own work and corrected their findings.
The IOM's subsequent review of the evidence found there is "inadequate or insufficient evidence" to establish a connection between the parent's Agent Orange exposure and development of acute myelogenous leukemia.
"Right now, the scientific evidence doesn't support a connection between this disease in the children of Vietnam veterans and Agent Orange exposure. If future studies reach the legal threshold, I will support creating benefits for these children of Vietnam veterans," Secretary Principi said.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||May 1, 2002|
|Previous Article:||VA Under Secretary posts filled.|
|Next Article:||USO names new CEO.(United Service Organizations, Inc.))(chief executive officer)(Edward A. Powell, Jr.)(Brief Article)|