Death benefits


A Vietnam friend of mine died from Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He was rated 100% for that disease at the time of his death. Can his rating be changed to 100% Total and Permanent? 


Jim's Reply:

I'm sorry for your loss. I've lost a number of Vietnam veteran friends to n-HL over the years and it's very painful. I'm not sure why you're trying to change that piece of your late friend's rating?

Typically when a Vietnam veteran is diagnosed with the agent orange presumptive condition of n-HL The vet is rated at 100% and that rating is temporary until such time as initial chemotherapy treatment is given. In the majority of cases when the first round of chemo is administered the veteran patient will experience an immediate and dramatic remission and the cancer will no longer be detectable. Over time the n-HL may develop again and again with more and different chemotherapy protocols tried.

At the point of successful treatment in the rating history the 100% will fall to a more appropriate rating to reflect any disabling conditions left from the therapy. If your friend had a recurrence or whatever happened that he passed from the disease, the benefits he leaves behind are the same as if his rating had been P & T at the time of his death. Any vet who dies of any service connected condition will leave dependents with the opportunity to receive DIC benefits.

This is typical of how VA views ratings of most service connected cancers and is one more reason the rating schedule desperately needs an update. I don't know of any way to have a change made to your friend's record and I'm not sure of any reason to try.