VA presumptive disability

How the VA Presumptive Disability List Works

Generally, in order to receive Veterans Affairs (VA) disability benefits, you must prove that your time serving in the military led to your disability. But the VA also has a list of presumptive disabilities, meaning you don’t have to prove your military service directly caused your disability.  And while the list doesn’t cover everything some veterans feel it should, rest assured that you can still apply for disability benefits, even if your health issue isn’t included in the list.

Some disabilities have conditions for service length. For example, you must have served for 90 consecutive days of active service before receiving disability for ALS. But for others, there are no conditions. Regardless of whether or not you meet the conditions, getting diagnosed with any of the following diseases helps prove that your disability is service-related, which means you should qualify for benefits.


Ready to see if you may qualify? Click here to get a FREE, no-obligation consultation before starting your claim.


VA Presumptive Disability List of Included Diseases and Conditions

VA Presumptive Disability List Conditions for Prisoners of War

Regardless of how long you were imprisoned, the VA presumes the following disabilities are service-connected if you secure a 10% VA disability rating at any time following military service. They include:

  • Psychosis
  • Any state of anxiety
  • Dysthymic disorder
  • Post-traumatic osteoarthritis
  • Organic residuals of frostbite
  • Hypertensive vascular disease
  • Atherosclerotic heart disease
  • Stroke as well as its related complications
  • Osteoporosis (if you have PTSD)

Were you imprisoned for at least 30 days? Then the VA has an even longer list of presumed disabilities that may apply to your case. Most involve nutritional deficiencies that may occur during imprisonment. They include:

  • Avitaminosis
  • Beriberi
  • Malnutrition (which may also include optic atrophy)
  • Chronic dysentery
  • Helminthiasis
  • Pellagra
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Peptic ulcer disease
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Osteoporosis

VA Presumptive Disability for Certain Chronic Diseases

Veterans with multiple sclerosis, diabetes mellitus and arthritis may be presumed to be service-related if the disease becomes at least 10% disabling within the applicable time limit following service. For further details of these diseases, see 38 CFR 3.309. Additionally, the applicable time limits can be found at 38 CFR 3.307.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

No matter how long ago you served in the military, if you develop ALS, then you qualify for compensation. However, you must have served for at least 90 consecutive days of active service.

VA Presumptive Disability Conditions for Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange and Other Herbicides

Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam who were presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange as well as other herbicides may qualify for benefits. Agent Orange is an herbicide the US military sprayed in the jungles of Vietnam in order to remove trees and dense tropical foliage that offered cover to the enemy. Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and have been diagnosed with any of the following diseases fall under the presumed disability category:

  • AL amyloidosis
  • Chloracne (or other acneform diseases similar to chloracne)
  • Chronic B-cell leukemias
  • Diabetes mellitus (i.e., Type 2)
  • Early-onset peripheral neuropathy
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Porphyria cutanea tarda
  • Prostate cancer
  • Respiratory cancers (i.e., lung, bronchus, larynx, trachea)
  • Soft-tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma)

Gulf War Veterans with Chronic Disabilities

Veterans who served in the Gulf War may experience chronic disabilities from undiagnosed illnesses. If your illness lasts at least 6 months, then the VA counts it as “chronic.” The VA has a list of eligibility requirements here. Examples of an undiagnosed illness may include:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Neurological signs or symptoms
  • Abnormal weight loss

The following infectious diseases may qualify for a presumptive service connection, as long as you meet all other eligibility requirements. These illnesses include:

  • Brucellosis
  • Coxiella burnetii (i.e., “Q fever”)
  • Malaria
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Nontyphoid Salmonella
  • Shigella
  • West Nile virus

Presumptive Disability Conditions for Veterans Exposed to Radiation

Radiation affects many veterans, particularly those who participated in radiation risk activities. The VA considers how much radiation exposure each veteran receives as well as duration, gender and family history, age, and other risk factors. The following diseases should count as service-connected, according to the VA presumptive disability list:

  • All forms of leukemia
  • Cancer of the thyroid, breast, pharynx, stomach, esophagus, pancreas, bile ducts, small intestine, gall bladder, brain, lung, bone, colon, or ovary
  • Bronchioloalveolar carcinoma (i.e., BAC, a rare lung cancer)
  • Lymphomas
  • Primary liver cancer

Veterans who served on active duty or resided at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1952 and December 31, 1987 may have been exposed to contaminants in the water supply. All veterans posted there will receive VA health care. These diseases qualify for benefits, according to the VA presumptive disability list:

  • Esophageal, breast, kidney, lung, or bladder cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Renal toxicity
  • Female infertility/miscarriage
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Hepatic steatosis

Still have questions about how the VA presumptive disability list applies to your own claim? We have experienced VA-accredited attorneys and advocates available to assist you with any questions you may have. In fact, you can sign up for a free phone call to get confidential legal advice about your claim.

Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now!

Get Your Free Benefits Evaluation

Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.