Understanding VA Presumptive Conditions: A Guide for Veterans

If you’re a U.S. veteran, you may have heard the phrase “presumptive conditions” but not understood the term or how it applied to you. 

We, at Vets National, can explain. 

Defining a presumptive condition 

A presumptive condition is a medical condition the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) links to your military service without requiring you to provide your own conclusive proof your service caused the condition.  

In other words, the VA automatically assumes (or “presumes”) a connection between certain health issues and specific service experiences, exposures, or locations, and that can make for a smoother disability-compensation claims process. 

For example, if one veteran has Diabetes Mellitus, type II and served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War and was exposed to Agent Orange, the VA will presume that his Diabetes Mellitus, type 2 is related to his military service and he will be able to receive service-connected compensation without having to show his own medical evidence of the connection between Diabetes and Agent Orange chemicals.   

On the contrary, if a second veteran has Diabetes Mellitus, type II and served in Germany in the 1990s, then that veteran will need to obtain medical evidence to establish that his Diabetes is related to service.   

Agent Orange and presumptive diseases 

What are the presumptive diseases for Agent Orange?  

Agent Orange, an herbicide used during the Vietnam War, has been linked to various illnesses, many of which the VA recognizes as presumptive conditions.  In other words, if the veteran was exposed to Agent Orange in service and has a condition on the VA’s presumptive conditions list, then that condition will be service-connected. These presumptive conditions include:   

  • AL amyloidosis 
  • Bladder cancer 
  • Chloracne (or other types of acneiform disease like it) 
  • Chronic B-cell leukemia 
  • Diabetes mellitus type 2 
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) 
  • Hodgkin’s disease 
  • Hypothyroidism 
  • Ischemic heart disease 
  • Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
  • Multiple myeloma 
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma 
  • Parkinsonism 
  • Parkinson’s disease 
  • Peripheral neuropathy, early onset 
  • Porphyria cutanea tarda 
  • Prostate cancer 
  • Respiratory cancers (including lung cancer) 
  • Some soft tissue sarcomas 

Veterans with any of these conditions and who were exposed to Agent Orange—including in Vietnam, Thailand, on C-123s, or near the Korean DMZ—may be eligible for benefits without further proof. 

The PACT Act and presumptive conditions 

The recently passed PACT Act—or the Sergeant First Class Health Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act—expands the list of presumptive conditions associated with military service.  

These conditions include certain illnesses linked to exposure to airborne hazards in the Southwest Asia theater of operations, including: 

  • Brucellosis  
  • Campylobacter jejuni 
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome 
  • Coxiella burnetii (Q fever) 
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Functional gastrointestinal disorders 
  • Malaria (or sooner in some cases) 
  • Medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illness 
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
  • Nontyphoid salmonella 
  • Other undiagnosed illnesses, such as cardiovascular signs and symptoms, muscle and joint pain, and headaches 
  • Shigella 
  • Visceral leishmaniasis 
  • West Nile virus 

Veterans with such conditions and who served in certain locations—including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and nearby waters—on or after August 2, 1990 can apply for disability compensation under the provisions of this Act. 

Seeking help 

VA rules about presumptive illnesses can be complicated. At Vets National, we can help. 

If you’re a veteran grappling with a presumptive illness or just want to understand more about potential benefits, contact us today. The number to call is 877-777-4021 

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