October 31, 2019

Confusion Over Regulatory Authority Leads to Further Delays in Linking Conditions to Agent Orange

Roughly 83,000 veterans are waiting for the VA to decide whether to recognize bladder cancer, Parkinson’s-like symptoms, and hypothyroidism as conditions eligible for Agent Orange benefits.  In October 2017, former VA Secretary David Shulkin decided to add such conditions to the list, but the Agent Orange Act of 1991, which granted the VA Secretary the authority to prescribe presumptive conditions, had expired.  In 2016, the Institute of Medicine (now known as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine) found “suggestive evidence” that bladder cancer and hypothyroidism are linked to Agent Orange exposure, and also recommended that veterans with “Parkinson’s-like symptoms” be granted a service-connected presumption.  The VA has yet to issue a decision on whether to recognize a presumptive link to Agent Orange for these conditions, but in an interview on September 17, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie revealed that a decision was forthcoming.