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S. 847current Law Provides A Presumption That Certain Diseases Manifesting In

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allan

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FWD:

S. 847

Current law provides a presumption that certain diseases manifesting in

veterans entitled to the presumption were incurred in or aggravated by service,

that is, that the diseases are service connected, even if there is no evidence

of such diseases in service. A presumption is provided for certain chronic

diseases if manifested to a degree of disability of 10-percent or more within

one year of separation from service, for certain tropical diseases if

manifested to a degree of disability of 10-percent or more (generally) within one

year of separation from service, for active tuberculosis or Hansen’s disease

if manifested to a degree of disability of 10-percent or more within three

years of separation from service, and for multiple sclerosis if manifested to a

degree of disability of 10-percent or more within seven years of separation

from service. S. 847 would eliminate the requirement that the manifestation

of multiple sclerosis occur within seven years of separation from service to

trigger the presumption.

VA does not support enactment of this bill. First, the current presumptive

period of seven years is already the most generous one provided under 38

U.S.C. § 1112(a). Second, we are aware of no scientific or medical justification

for presuming multiple sclerosis to be service connected, no matter how long

after service it first manifests, in light of the medical literature

indicating that there is genetic susceptibility to this disease of unknown cause.

Even if a veteran cannot qualify for the current presumption, service

connection is not precluded under current law if the veteran can establish that his

current multiple sclerosis is in fact related to his or her service. Further

liberalization would appear to undermine the purpose of providing

compensation for disabilities incurred in or aggravated by active service.

VA estimates that the benefit costs of this bill if enacted would be $185.5

million in the first year and $4.9 billion over ten years. We estimate

administrative costs to be $4.7 million for 68 full-time employees the first year

and $85.3 million for 96 full-time employees over 10 years.

S. 848S. 847

This bill would eliminate the current seven-year window that allows a

veteran to claim service connectedness for multiple sclerosis (MS) and extend that

service connectedness window indefinitely. At this time, there is no known

cause of MS. PVA cannot support this proposed legislation that would increase

the presumptive period for MS beyond the current seven years as long as new

medical evidence has not been presented to substantiate this change. PVA

does, however, encourage this Committee and Congress to promote more research in

the area of multiple sclerosis and related neurological conditions. We are

aware that there may be higher rates of MS in certain groups of veterans

attributable to environmental or other factors, and VA should examine this as

they did for exposures for veterans of Southeast Asia.

There appears to be some diseases and illnesses, to include multiple

sclerosis, that have a higher reported incidence among the veteran population than

non-veterans, but there is no clear medical evidence to support a

service-connected condition at this time. AMVETS Service Officers have unofficially

reported a higher percentage of multiple sclerosis diagnosis among Air Force

veterans than any other group of veterans for claims that they process. The

Secretary of Veterans Affairs has the authority to review certain illness and

diseases for certain groups of veterans and make recommendations based on the

findings. Despite this authority, it is a long and time-consuming process. In

the past, Congress has mandated the presumption of certain conditions and

AMVETS supports these efforts where applicable.

S. 847, a bill would extend the period of time during which a veteran’s

multiple sclerosis is to be considered to have been incurred in, or aggravated

by, military service during a period of war

VFW supports S. 847. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an idiopathic inflammatory

disease of the central nervous system with subtle symptoms at onset and periods

of remission. It is often very difficult to diagnosis. Consequently, many

individuals may not seek medical care until months or years after the initial

symptoms appear, as many of the symptoms come and go and often are not related

to each other. Because the course of the disease is variable and uncertain,

it may take years for a doctor to recognize the symptoms as those of MS. By

allowing for an open extension of presumption of service, you will be

including those veterans who may not have been correctly diagnosed with this

debilitating disease before time under the law has run out.

S. 847

This legislation would remove the time limit during which multiple sclerosis

is to be considered to have been incurred in, or aggravated by, military

service.

Normally, to establish eligibility for service connected benefits, a veteran

must provide evidence of a correlation between military service and the

condition being claimed. Under presumption of service connection, VA presumes

the service connected relationship exists based on the other qualifying

criteria, such as statistical information indicating a higher than normal affliction

rate among veterans. Multiple sclerosis is one of the insidious conditions

that may appear years after a veteran leaves active duty. This bill

recognizes that manifestation of multiple sclerosis may occur beyond the current

seven year presumptive period. S. 847 would ensure that no veteran who contracts

multiple sclerosis as a result of service is left without benefits,

regardless of when the disease becomes manifest. The DAV supports this bill.

S. 847, “to extend the period of time during which a veteran’s multiple

sclerosis is to be considered to have been incurred in, or aggravated by,

military service during a period of war”

This bill would eliminate the current seven-year period after service in

which a wartime veteran must develop multiple sclerosis, in order for it to be

presumptively service-connected, and extend it indefinitely so such a veteran

would qualify for service-connection on a presumptive basis if the disease

developed anytime after the veteran’s separation from the military.

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease, the cause of which is unknown,

affecting the central nervous system. The American Legion fully supports

this legislation. Given the nature of this terrible disease, elimination of a

delimiting period for the establishment of presumptive disability benefits is

certainly warranted.

_http://veterans.senate.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.CurrentHearings&rID=

1014_

(http://veterans.senate.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.CurrentHearings&rID=1014)

Check that same site for live video from hearing on now!

Denise

_DSNurse@aol.com_ (mailto:DSNurse@aol.com)

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