An increase in Veterans out-of-pocket payments for VA pharmaceuticals is scheduled for July 1, 2010, after being delayed in January.
The $1 increase will bring to $9 the copayments facing Veterans for each 30-day supply of medicine for the treatment of conditions not related to military service. The yearly maximum out-of-pocket payment for pharmaceuticals for non-service-related conditions is scheduled to increase to $1,080.
There are no copayments associated with the treatment of conditions related to military service. The cap will not apply to Veterans in priority groups seven and eight.
Update Your Retired Pay File Information
Remember: You are responsible for updating your retired pay file information at DFAS-CL, using the KY mailing address below, within one year of the event if you marry, remarry, have a child, are widowed or divorced and need to make or update a Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) election.
Not Updating Retired Pay Records Can Cost Benefits
Too often, we hear about survivors who were denied benefits because the Retired Soldier did not update retired pay records after getting married, divorced, remarried, being widowed or gaining a child.
We hear from Surviving Spouses who did not receive the retired pay for the days of the last month the Retired Soldier was alive because this money went to the person the Soldier had chosen at retirement.
We hear from former spouses who lost Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) benefits because neither the former spouse nor the Retired Soldier notified DFAS within a year of the court order that awarded former spouse SBP.
We also hear from spouses of Retirees, married after retirement, who assumed they had SBP coverage. However, if the Retiree did not take the required action within one year of marriage, the spouse may have no SBP coverage.
To make sure your spouse (or former spouse) is prepared, keep a file with information that will be needed when you die. Make sure your spouse (or former spouse) knows what
benefits to expect or not to expect.
Keep this article as a reminder to update your retired pay records if your status changes.
VA Recognizes ‘Presumptive’ Illnesses in Iraq, Afghanistan
WASHINGTON – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki has announced that the VA is taking steps to make it easier for Veterans to obtain disability compensation for certain diseases associated with service in the Persian Gulf War or Afghanistan.
The VA published a proposed regulation in the Federal Register Mar. 18, 2010 to establish new presumptions of service connection for nine specific infectious diseases associated with military service in Southwest Asia during the Persian Gulf War, or in Afghanistan on or after Sept. 19, 2001. Once the final regulation is published, we will announce it in Echoes and on our homepage. The proposed rule includes information about the long-term health effects potentially associated with the nine diseases: Brucellosis, Campylobacter jejuni, Coxiella burnetii (Q fever), malaria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Nontyphoid Salmonella, Shigella, Visceral leishmaniasis and West Nile virus.
For non-presumptive conditions, a Veteran must provide medical evidence to establish an actual connection between military service in Southwest Asia or in Afghanistan, and a specific disease. With the proposed rule, a Veteran will only have to show service in Southwest Asia or Afghanistan, and a current diagnosis of one of the nine diseases.
Because the Persian Gulf War has not officially been declared ended, Veterans serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom are eligible for VA’s new presumptions. Secretary Shinseki decided to include Afghanistan Veterans in these presumptions because NAS found that the nine diseases are prevalent in that country.
For more information about health problems associated with military service during operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and related VA programs go to http://www.publichealth. va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/or go to http://www.va.gov/ for information about disability compensation.
VA Proposes Change to Aid Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange
WASHINGTON – More than 100,000 Veterans exposed to herbicides while serving in Vietnam and other areas will have an easier path to qualify for disability pay under a proposed regulation published by the VA that adds three new illnesses to the list of health problems found to be related to Agent Orange and other herbicide exposures. The illnesses are B cell leukemias, such as hairy cell leukemia; Parkinson’s disease; and ischemic heart disease.
VA encourages Vietnam Veterans with any of these three diseases to submit their applications for compensation now so the VA can begin development of their claims and so they can receive benefits from the date of their applications once the rule becomes final.
More than 80,000 of the Veterans will have their past claims reviewed and may be eligible for retroactive payment, and all who are not currently eligible for enrollment into the VA healthcare system will become eligible.
The new rule will bring the number of illnesses presumed to be associated with herbicide exposure to 14 and significantly expand the current leukemia definition to include a much broader range of leukemias beyond chronic lymphocytic leukemia previously recognized by VA.
Veterans who served in Vietnam during the war and who have a “presumed” illness don’t have to prove an association between their illnesses and their military service. This “presumption” simplifies and speeds up the application process for benefits.
Other illnesses previously recognized under VA’s “presumption” rule as being caused by exposure to herbicides during the Vietnam War are:
• AL Amyloidosis