Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma is a cancer that begins in the lymphatic system, and is a general category of lymphoma. There are several subtypes that fall under it, while Hodgkin’s lymphoma is another general category of lymphoma itself. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma starts when your body produces too many lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell that helps fight infection. These abnormal, cancerous lymphocytes do not follow the same lifecycle as ordinary lymphocytes, and as your body continues to create them, they create a surplus in your lymph nodes, causing swelling.
Eligible veterans diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma should be aware that the condition is linked to exposure to toxic exposure from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that were found at U.S. Marine Corp Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, as well as exposure to Agent Orange in the Vietnam theater and toxins from burn pits from the early 90s and on. This condition—and several more—are considered presumptive conditions if you were exposed to any such chemicals in those circumstances. This means VA makes it easier for you to apply for and receive disability benefits if you can tie your active diagnosis for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma to your service record.
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 Non-Hodgkin lymphoma 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 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. 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
- Immune Disorders
- Aplastic anemia
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney Cancer
- Multiple Myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)
- All types of respiratory cancer
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Treatment
Common symptoms of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma include:
Swollen lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, or groin
Abdominal pain or swelling
Chest pain, coughing, or difficulty breathing
Night sweats and fever
Unexplained weight loss
Risk factors for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma include medications that suppress the immune system, infection from particular viruses or bacteria (such as HIV or Epstein-Barr infection), exposure to chemicals like pesticides or weed killer, and increased age. Most people diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma are in their 60s.
Treatment for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma may vary, depending on your health and specific form of cancer. Indolent—or slower-growing—non-Hodgkin lymphoma may not require treatment, whereas an aggressive case of it will. Common forms of treatment are chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted drug therapy, bone marrow transplant, immunotherapy, and engineering immune cells to fight the cancer.
VA Disability Ratings for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is rated under Diagnostic Code 7115 in 38 CFR § 4.117, Schedule of ratings – Hemic and Lymphatic Systems. For active disease and during treatment, plus six months after your last treatment, VA will assign you a 100% disability rating. Following that, VA will schedule further assessments to review your condition and rate you accordingly. If there is no recurrence of the cancer, VA will begin rating your condition based on its residuals.
You may also be eligible for total disability individual unemployability (TDIU)—which gets you a 100% disability rating—for your Non-Hodgkin lymphoma if the disease keeps you from engaging in meaningful, full-time work.
Remember that although Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a presumed condition, VA will still require that you attend a C&P examination to verify your diagnosis.
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. Because of this, veterans are more eager than ever to collect the compensation due to them. And if family members have been affected, it also requires filling out a separate form: VA Form 10-10068: Camp Lejeune Family Member Program Application.
For assistance with your claim for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma disability benefits, you can contact VA Disability Group PLLC at 844-VET-LAWS.