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Blue water Navy vets may be eligible for disability benefits

Some New York veterans of the Vietnam War who were exposed to Agent Orange may be eligible for disability benefits if a proposed bill becomes law. The proposed bill would extend disability benefits to blue water Navy veterans who have contracted one of 14 medical conditions that are believed to be related to Agent Orange exposure.

The House Veteran Affairs Committee has proposed H.R. 299, which would direct the Department of Veteran Affairs to extend benefits to Navy veterans of the Vietnam war who have contracted one of the diseases that are associated with Agent Orange exposure. On May 8, House members moved to accelerate the bill for a vote.

The bill lists specific geographic areas of where the soldiers served and also includes soldiers who served in the demilitarized Korean zone. Children of soldiers who were born with spina bifida because of their parents' Agent Orange exposure are also included. In January, a federal court ruled that the Department of Veteran Affairs was wrong in its denial of disability benefits to blue water Navy vets.

Veterans who have contracted diseases because of their service-related exposures to chemical agents are generally entitled to disability benefits. However, these veterans might want to get assistance from lawyers who are experienced with disability benefits claims. Legal counsel may help a client gather the medical documentation and service records that may be needed to support the claim for benefits. If the claims are initially denied, an attorney may represent their client's interests throughout the appeals process.

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