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Veterans May Receive More Disability Pay Linked to Agent Orange

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Dallas, TXIn what might be welcome news to veterans who receive VA disability benefits, the list of conditions approved for benefits is about to get longer. The change concerns VA benefits and how they are given to veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange. The Department of Veterans Affairs says it will add more health problems to the list of conditions that can be linked to Agent Orange exposure—thereby allowing veterans who have these conditions and who were exposed to Agent Orange to be eligible for veterans' disability benefits.

The Washington Post reported on 9/01/10 that approximately 270,000 Vietnam War veterans are being compensated for diabetes because they were exposed to Agent Orange.

According to the Washington Post, A 1991 federal law concerning Agent Orange states that officials should find a link between the chemical agent and a disease "if the credible evidence for the association is equal to or outweighs the credible evidence against association." Essentially, if more evidence suggests that Agent Orange is associated with a disease than that it is not associated with the disease, officials should find that Agent Orange is linked to the disease.

Agent Orange has already been linked to various cancers, diabetes and erectile dysfunction. New conditions that could be connected to Agent Orange include heart disease, Parkinson's disease, certain types of leukemia, multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Meanwhile, families of soldiers who died have filed a lawsuit against Prudential Insurance Co. of America, alleging the company illegally profited off the dead soldiers' insurance benefits. According to the 8/13/10 edition of the New York Times, the lawsuit alleges Prudential kept life insurance benefits in the company's general account—thereby earning interest for itself—rather than handing those benefits over to the families immediately. Furthermore, when the money was given to the families, it was given with an interest rate of between 0.5 and 1.5 percent, while Prudential is alleged to have made between five percent and six percent off the funds.

Prudential has not commented on the lawsuit. A spokesperson said that accounts are readily available to the beneficiary and interest rates are similar to those in other banking arrangements.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating how Prudential handles benefits for soldiers' families.

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