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Veterans Benefits AdministrationM21-1, Part III - page 40 / 71





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M21-1, Part IIIFebruary 25, 2005

Change 131

(3)  The law limits the birth defects for which we may pay benefits.  Claims for benefits from birth defects resulting from a familial disorder, a birth-related injury, or a fetal or neonatal infirmity with well-established causes, should be denied as not authorized by law.  


a.  General.  Several radiogenic diseases are subject to presumptive service connection in both live and death cases under PL 100-321.  This law became effective May 1, 1988.  The only radiation risk activities which can be considered for presumptive service connection are participation in atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, post-war occupation of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, and internment as a POW in Japan.  Prior to August 14, 1991, the presumption applied only to veterans exposed to ionizing radiation while on active duty.  However, PL 102-86, enacted on that date, extended the presumption to include persons exposed while on active duty for training or inactive duty for training.  A specified disease which became manifest in a radiation-exposed veteran is considered to have been incurred or aggravated during the veteran's service.

b.  Diseases Specific to Radiation-Exposed Veterans.  There are two sets of radiogenic conditions

with separate development paths.  Conditions considered presumptive under 38 CFR 3.309 are considered service-connected for any veteran who participated in a radiation activity (38 CFR 3.309(d)(3)(ii)) while serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty for training.  Service connection for other radiogenic conditions can also be granted but require development for a reconstructed dose estimate.  Those conditions are in 38 CFR 3.311.

c.  Development

(1)  Before undertaking development of a claim, the following criteria must be met:

(a)  One of the presumptive radiogenic diseases listed above must be shown to exist by medical evidence.

(b)  It must be alleged the disability was the result of participation in a radiation-risk activity.

(2)  If one of the above criteria is not met, no further development under this law is warranted.  In such cases, consider the claim as any other claim for direct service connection under 38 CFR 3.303 or 38 CFR 3.311.  The denial of benefits under all applicable laws and regulations, if warranted, will be accomplished by a rating decision.

           (3)  The Department of Defense is the source of information concerning the veteran's participation in radiation-risk activity.  As with a claim for direct service connection, requests for verification of U.S. atmospheric nuclear weapons test participation, occupational force involvement or internment as a POW in Japan subject to the same conditions as occupational forces are to be sent to:  Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) at the following address: non-U.S. test participation should be processed in accordance with paragraph 5.12e below.

(4)  A sample development letter is shown as Exhibit B-9.  Development letters to DTRA must contain the following information:

(a)  Veteran's and claimant's names.

(b)  Veteran's military service number.


Veteran's Social Security number.


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