As the price of freedom, soldiers bravely endure hardships in the line of duty, often facing unseen threats. Unfortunately, many service members have been exposed to burn pits and other airborne contaminants during their deployments, leading to severe health issues. In this article, we'll explore the potential illnesses caused by such exposure and discuss how these individuals may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, in addition to VA benefits, provided they meet the necessary work quarters requirements.
Army Exposure to Burn Pits and Airborne Contaminants: The Hidden Hazard
During the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military employed burn pits as a method of waste disposal. These vast open-air pits incinerated a wide range of materials, including hazardous chemicals, plastics, and munitions. Unfortunately, the toxic smoke emitted from these burn pits exposed service members to a variety of airborne contaminants.
Potential Illnesses Resulting from Exposure
The long-term health consequences of burn pit and airborne contaminant exposure have raised serious concerns among military personnel and veterans. Common illnesses associated with such exposure include:
Respiratory Disorders: Chronic bronchitis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are prevalent among individuals exposed to burn pit fumes, causing difficulty in breathing and reduced lung function.
Skin Conditions: Service members exposed to hazardous chemicals and pollutants may develop severe skin disorders, such as rashes, eczema, and chemical burns.
Neurological Disorders: Some studies suggest that exposure to airborne toxins might be linked to neurological disorders, including headaches, cognitive impairments, and memory loss.
Cancer: Prolonged exposure to certain carcinogens found in burn pit smoke has been associated with an increased risk of various cancers, including lung, skin, and respiratory system cancers.
Seeking Relief: VA Benefits for Burn Pit Exposure
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) acknowledges the potential risks associated with burn pit exposure and has established the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. This registry allows eligible veterans and service members to document their exposure, providing vital information for ongoing research and healthcare initiatives.
Veterans who suffer from service-connected illnesses as a result of exposure may be eligible for VA disability benefits. The VA evaluates each claim individually, considering the severity and impact of the condition on the veteran's daily life.
Social Security Disability Benefits for Veterans
In addition to VA benefits, veterans with disabling conditions stemming from burn pit exposure may also qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. SSD benefits are a separate federal program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), providing financial assistance to individuals unable to work due to a disability.
To qualify for SSD benefits, veterans must meet the SSA's criteria, which includes the "work quarters" requirement. Essentially, this means that the applicant must have earned enough work credits through their previous employment to be eligible for benefits.
Combining VA Benefits with SSD Benefits: A Comprehensive Solution
It is crucial for veterans with service-connected illnesses to explore all available avenues of support. By combining VA benefits with SSD benefits, veterans can secure comprehensive financial assistance, easing the burden of disability-related expenses and ensuring a more stable future.
Conclusion: Advocating for Those Who Served
The sacrifices made by our military personnel deserve unwavering respect and support. Exposure to burn pits and airborne contaminants represents a hidden hazard that can have severe long-term health consequences for service members. Understanding the potential illnesses stemming from such exposure is crucial for obtaining the benefits and assistance these veterans rightfully deserve.
If you or a loved one has been impacted by burn pit exposure and suffer from disabling conditions, Attorney David Newcomb, an experienced Social Security Disability attorney, can provide personalized guidance based on your specific situation. For more information or to schedule a consultation please call or submit a form below.