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Florida Veterans’ Disability Claims: Three New Conditions Added to Agent Orange Presumptive List for 2021

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The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 has added three new conditions to their list of presumptive conditions. Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange may qualify for benefits if they have one of the presumptive conditions. The three new additions for 2021 are bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism, or Parkinson-like symptoms. To learn more about applying for veterans’ disability benefits in Florida, speak with an Orlando veterans’ disability lawyer.

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is a disease that affects the bladder, which is located in your lower abdomen. A tumor can form on or near the lining of the bladder and grow slowly over time. If it grows quickly, it may spread to other parts of your body before you even know you have cancer. The good news is that if caught early enough, most cancers are successfully treated with surgery or radiation therapy.

Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

The symptoms of bladder cancer are similar to the more common urinary tract infections, so it may be difficult to tell if your condition is cancer or not. Possible signs of bladder cancer include blood in the urine, continued urge to urinate, pain during urination, and abnormal discharge from the penis (in men). If you notice any of these signs, contact your doctor right away.

Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

It is important that you see your physician as soon as possible if you notice any unusual symptoms. Otherwise, there are also some home tests that can be done; first off would be a urine test. A urine culture test will show if there is an infection present in the bladder which could lead to bladder cancer. Another home test is a blood test, which can help to rule out other conditions that could be mistaken for bladder cancer such as anemia or kidney disease.

Bladder Cancer Treatments

Once diagnosed with bladder cancer your doctor will discuss the best course of treatment based on what type you have and how quickly it has spread in the body. Treatments for bladder cancer may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery to remove the tumor completely from your body.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough of certain important hormones. The most common symptom associated with hypothyroid disease is fatigue and lethargy, because your body isn’t able to effectively convert fat into energy.

Although you can treat this problem by taking thyroid hormone replacement medications, you can also take steps to combat hypothyroidism’s symptoms when they arise. If you notice that your metabolism is slowing down or that you feel tired and sluggish on a day-to-day basis despite getting plenty of sleep, talk with your doctor about whether the problem might be related to an underactive thyroid gland.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism sometimes goes undiagnosed because many people mistake its symptoms for other conditions or general fatigue.

The most common symptom of an underactive thyroid gland is feeling tired. Some common signs of the disorder include weight gain, fatigue, constipation or diarrhea, hair loss, dry skin and puffy eyes.

Hypothyroidism Diagnosis

When testing for Hashimoto’s disease or hypothyroidism, doctors will look at your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. If TSH is high, it suggests that the body isn’t producing enough of its own thyroxine and triiodothyronine hormones. It also indicates that something else may be wrong with the body.

Tests for thyroid antibodies can help confirm if you have autoimmune hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s disease because the presence of certain antibodies means that your immune system is attacking thyroglobulin and/or TPO, two proteins found in the cells of the thyroid gland. If this occurs, it will damage your thyroid gland and lead to hypothyroidism.

If the TSH test is inconclusive, you may be asked to go through additional tests like a CT scan or MRI of your thyroid gland. This will show if there are any abnormalities in your thyroid gland that could explain why it isn’t working properly, e.g., an enlarged (goiter) or a tumor.
Another test that may be done is the radioactive iodine uptake and scan (RAI). In this case, you will be asked to swallow a small amount of radio-iodine. The thyroid gland takes up some of the iodine from this medicine and uses it like other forms of thyroxin hormone produced in the body. With this test, the doctor can see if your thyroid gland is absorbing and processing iodine normally.

Hypothyroidism Treatments

There are different types of treatment options available for Hypothyroidism. The first is Levothyroxine, which is a man-made version of thyroxin that has been shown to improve symptoms in people with hypothyroidism.

Another form of medication used to treat the condition are replacement hormones which can be taken orally or through injections.
A third option is the use of synthetic thyroid hormone that has been combined with TSH.

To understand the specific treatment option that would be best for your condition, discuss this with a medical professional who can help determine which method will work best for your particular case.

Parkinsonism

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the central nervous system. It can result in tremors, muscular rigidity and postural instability as well as other symptoms such as bradykinesia (slowness of movement), mood changes and impaired balance and coordination. Parkinsonism treatments aim to manage these symptoms by increasing dopamine levels and preventing the breakdown of excess dopamine.

Symptoms of Parkinsonism

Symptoms of Parkinsonism can include tremors or shaking, slowness of movement and an inability to move the body smoothly. Other symptoms may be loss of smell, constipation, depression or a loss of memory.

Diagnosis of Parkinsonism

According to recent research, Parkinsonism is a condition associated with the early development of dopamine depletion and pathology. It can be diagnosed by using clinical tests for assessing motor dysfunction and neuropsychological testing. There are three main types: Parkinson’s disease or other specific cause (85%), atypical parkinsonian disorders such as progressive supranuclear palsy or multiple system atrophy (15%), and Parkinson’s plus syndromes such as corticobasal degeneration.

Parkinsonism Treatments

There are several types of medications available for treating Parkinson’s disease. These drugs can help people improve their symptoms and manage the progression of the disease better. Specific drug treatments should be discussed with your physician.

At the Law Offices of Shea A. Fugate, P.A., we have years of experience helping injured and sick veterans apply and appeal for benefits they are owed. We can assist no matter whether you are applying for benefits or you need to appeal a denial. Whenever possible, retaining an attorney from the start of the process is best. We know the main reasons disability claims get denied, so we can help you keep from making some of the most common application mistakes.

Existing Diseases Associated with Agent Orange

Veterans exposed to Agent Orange or other eligible herbicides who develop one of these presumptive diseases could qualify for disability benefits:

  • AL Amyloidosis
  • Chronic B-cell Leukemias
  • Chloracne
  • Diabetes Mellitus Type 2
  • Hodgkin’s Disease
  • Ischemic Heart Disease
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-Onset
  • Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Respiratory Cancers
  • Soft Tissue Sarcomas

Exposure to Agent Orange and Herbicides Used in Vietnam

Examples of potential exposure sites include:

  • Agent Orange Vietnam: Presumed exposure on land, on a vessel operating on the inland waterways, or on a ship that operated no more than 12 nautical miles seaward from the demarcation line of Vietnam’s waters and Cambodia between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975;
  • Korean Demilitarized Zone: Possible presumed exposure for units that operated along the DMZ between September 1, 1967 and August 31, 1971.
  • C-123 Airplanes and Agent Orange Residue: C-123 flight, aeromedical crew, and ground maintenance members might have been exposed to herbicide residue in these planes that were used during and after the Vietnam War.
  • Military Bases in Thailand: Military members stationed in Thailand or at the Royal Thai Air Force base between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1765 could be eligible on a case-by-case basis.

Other possible exposure could come from herbicide tests and storage outside of Vietnam, such as Department of Defense testing done at various sites in the United States and other countries.

Understanding Agent Orange Exposure and the Vietnam War Era

During the Vietnam War, the United States used various herbicides to destroy the enemy crops to eliminate foliage, which increased visibility and destroyed food sources. One of the most common ones used was Agent Orange, which had a combination of two kinds of herbicide agents. A byproduct of Agent Orange production was a toxic dioxin contaminant, which many veterans were exposed to while in Vietnam. Many veterans have since developed severe health conditions. Many times, the symptoms didn’t appear for years.

Contact an Orlando Veterans Disability Attorney

If you need assistance with a Florida veterans’ disability claim, it’s essential to speak with our Orlando veterans’ disability lawyers right away. Contact the Law Offices of Shea A. Fugate, P.A., today to schedule an initial consultation.

 

Resource:

publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/locations/index.asp

publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/index.asp

https://sheafugate.com/how-can-an-orlando-elder-law-attorney-help-me/

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