Immune disorders affect your immune system, which is your body’s main line of defense against infections and other invasive pathogens. Your immune system made up of a network of special cells, tissues, and organs that work together to combat illness and keep you from getting constantly sick. Immune disorders prevent the immune system from doing its job, making you vulnerable to frequent and more serious infections.
There are four main ways in which your immune system may be compromised. You may have one the following:
- Primary immune deficiency, which means you’re born with a weak immune system,
- Acquired immune deficiency, from when you become ill with a disease that weakens your immune system,
- An overactive immune system, often spurred on by an allergic reaction, or,
- Autoimmune disease, which occurs your immune system turns against you and starts attacking your own body
Service Presumption for Immune Disorders
Eligible veterans diagnosed with any of a certain number of immune disorders should be aware that their condition may be linked to exposure to toxic exposure from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), in particular trichloroethylene (TCE), that were found at U.S. Marine Corp Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
Examples of applicable immune disorders include:
Aplastic Anemia: A rare, potentially life-threatening form of anemia in which your body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells
Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS): a cancer of the bone marrow that causes malformed blood cells, and which can lead to immune disorder
Scleroderma: refers to a rare set of diseases that cause hardening and tightening of the skin, as well as problems to your blood vessels, organs, and digestive tract.
Out of these conditions, aplastic anemia and MDS are considered presumptive conditions if you were exposed to any such chemicals while stationed at Camp Lejeune within an applicable timeframe. This means VA makes it easier for you to apply for and receive disability benefits if you can tie your active diagnosis for an immune disorder to your service record.
At this time, scleroderma is not considered a presumptive condition. This doesn’t disqualify you from seeking disability compensation and healthcare benefits through VA,, however. It simply means that you must establish a medical nexus between your current diagnosis and your service record with the help of your healthcare provider. A presumptive condition simply removes the burden of proof.
Background on Camp Lejeune Toxic Exposure
Service members and their family members who were stationed at Camp Lejeune for a certain period of time between the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s may have been exposed to several dangerous toxins in the local drinking supply. Such toxins include trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride, which were either improperly stored or disposed of on or nearby the base.
Veterans who have been diagnosed with an immune disorder and were on active duty for a period of no fewer than 30 days at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 may be eligible for additional healthcare benefits and compensation from VA.
VA established a complete list of presumptive conditions so that veterans with certain diagnoses do not need to provide a medical nexus linking an active diagnosis to their service record. While this may not extend to all immune disorders, you are still able to file your claim, with a medical nexus to prove the service connection, to seek compensation.
Some healthcare benefits also extend to affected family members of service members.
For more information on presumptive conditions related to toxic exposure at Camp Lejeune, you can read the following blogs:
- TCE exposure benefits
- Aplastic anemia
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney Cancer
- Multiple Myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)
- All types of respiratory cancer
Assistance With Your Claim
The Camp Lejeune Act of 2012 and the Honoring Our Pact Act of 2022 have increased the benefits available to veterans and affected family members. If your family members have been affected, you must also fill out a separate form: VA Form 10-10068: Camp Lejeune Family Member Program Application.
For assistance with your claim for MDS disability benefits, you can contact VA Disability Group PLLC at 844-VET-LAWS.