Do I have a claim if I was exposed to ionizing radiation?

Do I have a claim if I was exposed to ionizing radiation?

The VA considers disability compensation claims for veterans exposed to ionizing radiation as a result of participation in atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons who later developed a radiogenic disease.

The specific diseases are listed in federal regulation, 38 CFR 3.311(b)(2), and must be manifested within five years or more after exposure (unless indicated otherwise) (38 CFR 3.311(b)(5)):

  • All forms of leukemia except chronic lymphatic (lymphocytic) leukemia (manifested at any time after exposure);
  • Thyroid cancer;
  • Breast cancer;
  • Lung cancer;
  • Bone cancer (if manifested within 30 years of exposure);
  • Liver cancer;
  • Skin cancer;
  • Esophageal cancer;
  • Stomach cancer;
  • Colon cancer;
  • Pancreatic cancer;
  • Kidney cancer;
  • Urinary bladder cancer;
  • Salivary gland cancer;
  • Multiple myeloma;
  • Posterior subcapsular cataracts (if manifested within 6 months or more after exposure);
  • Non-malignant thyroid nodular disease;
  • Ovarian cancer;
  • Parathyroid adenoma;
  • Tumors of the brain and central nervous system;
  • Cancer of the rectum;
  • Lymphomas other than Hodgkin’s disease;
  • Prostate cancer; and
  • Any other cancer.

Other diseases may be considered by the VA if the veteran cites or submits competent scientific or medical evidence that the claimed disease is a disease related to or caused by radioactivity.

Under these circumstances, a claim for disability compensation must include the following evidence:

  • Medical evidence of a disease resulting from exposure to ionizing radiation

A strong claim would also include:

  • History of exposure to known carcinogens
  • Post-service occupational history
  • Family history
  • Complete medical history of all medical care relating to the claimed disease
  • Names and addresses of all physician and facilities who made the diagnosis or provided treatment for the claim disease
  • All tissue block, slides or any other pathology samples, if available.