For many Camp Lejeune veterans, obtaining disability compensation from the VA is a challenge

By Treven Pyles

Posted on September 30th, 2022

Despite the VA allowing veterans to file disability claims if they developed health problems as a result of drinking toxic water at Camp Lejeune, many are denied this benefit. The "subject matter experts" the VA uses to review these claims and examine veterans are partly responsible for the very low disability claim approval rate.

While it is a known fact that nearly one million service members and civilians were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987, many veterans have a difficult time obtaining disability compensation from the VA. The Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 is a comprehensive legislative package that offers better healthcare, education, housing, and memorial services to veterans. It was also meant to expand the accountability and transparency of the VA.

Under this law, Camp Lejeune veterans can file a VA claim for disability compensation, as most diseases they came to struggle with due to contaminated water exposure are debilitating. They prevent veterans from carrying out simple daily tasks because of the pain and discomfort they experience, and, as a result, many Camp Lejeune veterans need a caretaker to help with their usual routine. However, it has recently come to light that the VA system is quite flawed when it comes to handling disability claims.

Since 2012, when the VA began using alleged "subject matter experts" to review these documents, the disability claim approval rate for Camp Lejeune veterans has dropped from 25% to only 5%. After filing a lawsuit on behalf of veterans, students at Yale Law School discovered that the "subject matter experts" were general and preventive medicine doctors who lacked the experience and expertise to decide who is eligible for disability compensation and assess the complex health issues Camp Lejeune veterans typically develop.

The current disability claim approval rate for Camp Lejeune veterans is 17%

Although there has been a slight improvement in the disability claim approval rate for Camp Lejeune veterans, most still encounter challenges when trying to obtain this benefit from the VA. Still, the VA is adamant that the doctors it works with have "appropriate credentials" and underwent four hours of training on the diagnoses relevant to Camp Lejeune's contaminated water and the evaluation of claims. Furthermore, the VA stated that it has 2,443 Camp Lejeune contaminated water claims pending at the moment, half of which are backlog.

Additional problems were found regarding how the VA handles the disability claims filed by Camp Lejeune veterans, such as:

  • it mishandled almost 40% of all disability claims filed for exposure to toxic water at Camp Lejeune, denying this benefit to over 21,000 veterans struggling with crippling diseases
  • out of the 57,500 claims filed since 2017 for diagnoses related to water contamination at Camp Lejeune, it denied 17,200 prematurely, instead of requesting additional information
  • disability claims filed by 2,300 Camp Lejeune veterans were assigned incorrect dates, denying these affected people nearly $14 million in retroactive payments
  • other 1,500 disability claims filed by Camp Lejeune veterans were denied for technical and procedural errors, further preventing toxic exposure victims from receiving compensation

Given these conditions, filing a VA disability claim as a Camp Lejeune veteran and having it approved is nearly impossible. For this reason, if you are a veteran who received one of the diagnoses granting you eligibility to file a VA claim, we strongly encourage you to contact our resourceful attorneys. We have been assisting toxic exposure victims for nearly 30 years, so we have the necessary experience and knowledge to help you. Our legal team will first have to determine whether you meet the eligibility criteria. If you do, we will take over the legal process, and you will be able to keep focusing on your health and treatment.

Our attorneys may be able to obtain VA disability compensation for you and file a Camp Lejeune water claim

Veterans whose disability claims were rejected by the VA are highly advised to get in touch with our legal team, as we may be able to obtain this benefit on their behalf. To find out whether you are entitled to disability compensation, we will only ask for your military records, which you must retrieve, and your medical records stating your diagnosis. Our skilled attorneys will carefully review your case, and you will know for sure whether you qualify for disability compensation. Moreover, we can also see if you are entitled to file a claim under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which has recently been signed into law by President Joe Biden.

Eligible veterans will have their disability compensation claim reopened by our attorneys, which can significantly increase their chances of receiving this VA benefit. We may also be able to obtain financial compensation for you from the government under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which can prove of great help if you struggle financially as a consequence of the high cost of your treatment. Your involvement in the legal process will be minimal, as our attorneys are well aware that Camp Lejeune veterans are usually in a lot of physical and emotional pain. In the end, you may obtain the money you deserve for your unjust suffering.