VA Proposing New Illnesses for Service-Connected Brain Injury Definition; Eric Shinseki Comments

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Eric Shinseki

The Department of Veterans Affairs is proposing a new regulation in the Federal Register that would increase the number of illnesses connected to traumatic brain injury suffered while in service.

The VA said the proposed regulation  would add Parkinson’s disease, unprovoked seizures, some dementias, depression and hormone deficiency diseases related to several glands as secondary illnesses to service-connected TBI.

If a veteran is diagnosed with service-related TBI and also has one of those illnesses, then the VA will classify that illness service-connected as secondary to the brain injury.

“We must always decide veterans’ disability claims based on the best science available and we will,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said. “Veterans who endure health problems deserve timely decisions based on solid evidence that ensure they receive benefits earned through their service to the country.”

Comments will be accepted over the next 60 days and a final regulation will be published in the Federal Register after all comments are considered, the VA said.

Service connection under the proposed rule will depend on the severity of the brain injury, ranging from mild, moderate to severe, as well as the period of time between the initial brain injury and occurrence of the secondary illness.

The VA said veterans are not prohibited from claiming direct-service connection to their injury even if their injury does not meet the established criteria.

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