Temporary rating for Cancer


Hello Jim, I was originally diagnosed and treated for Bladder Cancer in November of 2009 by a private urologist. In 2017, I initially applied to the VA for health coverage to help my pay for my bladder cancer surgeries. In June of 2020, the VA approved my request for medical coverage and I was awarded 100% disability from June 2020 in March of this year, 2021. Since September of 2020, I have had 2 surgeries to remove high grade cancer tumors from my bladder.

Given my diagnosis, why am I rated "temporary" disabled when I have been fighting this cancer (service connected from Camp Lejeune contaminated water) since 2009? I am trying to get VA assistance with getting some dental work but was told I do not qualify for VA Dental because of the temporary rating given to me. I have been fighting this cancer for almost 11 years now. How can that be considered temporary? 


Jim's Reply:

You've hit on one of the most perplexing quirks of the VA rating system. All service connected cancer is considered a temporary condition because cancer is treatable. 

The VA takes the perspective that every veteran will want to have the cancer treated and that every treatment will eliminate all traces of cancer. This happens most often with a service connected prostate cancer or similarly, lung cancer...both are 100% temporary ratings.

Prostate cancer often isn't treated at all these days. Watchful waiting is a very thoughtful way to approach a disease that most of us will die with, not of.

Why does VA think this way? Nobody knows. Can't they change it? Sure, but that won't happen because it just gets too involved for any administration and VA changes administrations before progress can happen so here we are.

During your next 'future exam' you can ask the examiner to note that your condition is static and won't change. That may trigger the rater to give you a permanent status. Good luck.