WASHINGTON -- Thousands of additional veterans will be eligible for compensation for radiation-related cancers under new regulations adopted by the Department of Veterans Affairs Friday.
The new rules add five types of cancer -- brain, bone, colon, lung and ovarian -- to the 16 presumed to be connected to radiation exposure during military service. "Atomic veterans" who meet the criteria will be eligible for monthly benefits ranging from $103 to $2,163, depending on their level of disability.
The five cancers are being added to VA's so-called presumptive list -- meaning if a veteran is found to have the disease and participated in "radiation-risk activities," it is presumed the illness is related to service time. The new rules go into effect March 26.
"These veterans accepted the risks of duty and have borne the burden of their illnesses in service to our nation," said Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony J. Principi. "They should not have to bear an additional and unequal burden to prove they deserve the benefits they've so rightfully earned."
The VA estimates it will grant 11,000 veterans claims, as well as 5,800 dependency claims, over the next 10 years, at a cost of around $800 million.
Since 1994, Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., tried to expand the "presumptive list" of cancers legislatively.
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