Compton: Court has reversed Navy vets' Agent Orange decision
By George Compton
Q. What is the status of the court decision to allow Navy veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam to claim exposure to Agent Orange?
A. On May 8, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims that found that Vietnam War blue-water veterans who had served on ships off the coast of Vietnam, but had never set foot within the land borders of Vietnam, were entitled to a presumption of service-connected disability for a medical condition associated with Agent Orange.
For those interested in the transcript of the decision, it can be found at http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/dailylog.html.
I expect the decision to be appealed to the Supreme Court, and that could take a while.
Q. I am a Korean War veteran and I have been receiving compensation at the 20 percent rate. With the cost of living continuing to rise, is it possible to increase my compensation?
A. If your compensable medical condition has become more disabling, then you can reopen your claim. We are sending you the requirements for an increase in your condition from the VA Schedule of Rating Disabilities so you can discuss it with your physician.
Another possibility would be to apply for non-service-connected pension.
We would need to know your income and medical expenses. If approved, it could pay more than your 20 percent rating.
Q. I understand that for the child of a veteran to be able to use the California Fee Waiver the veteran must have a service-connected disability. I did not file for disability from the VA, but I was discharged from the military because of a medical condition. Will that make my son eligible?
A. If a veteran has a discharge document that states the reason for discharge is because of a service-connected disability, eligibility for the California Fee Waiver is established.
Also, you need to file for disability with the VA. We will help.
— George Compton, retired Army colonel, is the veterans service officer for the County of Ventura, Human Services Agency. Send your questions to Veterans Service Office, 1701 Pacific Ave., Suite 110, Oxnard, CA 93033; phone number: 385-6366; fax: 385-6371; or e-mail: George.Compton@ventura.org.
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