Free Consultation:212-766-5222

Leav and Steinberg Team

Everything You Need to Know About VA Benefits and Compensation As a Camp Lejeune Victim

Military members marching

Decades following the news that North Carolina military base, Camp Lejeune, knowingly had toxic drinking water on-site, the U.S. government is finally extending its compensation options for exposed victims.

Between VA disability benefits, healthcare coverage, and—as of August 2022—federal lawsuits, military personnel, civilians, and family members affected by the contaminated water now have access to complete justice.

If you’re a victim of Camp Lejeune’s tragic water contamination between the years of 1953 and 1987, here’s what to know about your options for receiving compensation.

Who Qualifies for Camp Lejeune VA Disability Benefits?

Since the Camp Lejeune Act of 2012, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has provided veterans, reservists, and National Guard members affected by Camp Lejeune’s 30+ year water contamination crisis with a means of restitution through disability compensation. These benefits include monthly tax-free payments to Camp Lejeune veterans who incurred an illness as a result of serving at the base.

While the full extent of the damage caused by the toxic water is unknown, the federal government identifies eight presumptive health conditions eligible for disability benefits, including:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease

For eligibility, you must not have received a dishonorable discharge when leaving the military. When filing your claim, you must also provide supporting documents that prove:

  • You were stationed at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River for at least 30 consecutive days between the affected time period of August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987
  • You have been diagnosed with one of the eight presumptive conditions

Though your condition doesn’t have to have been discovered while you were in service, you will need a current diagnosis to file a claim and receive benefits.

Who Qualifies for Camp Lejeune VA Healthcare?

With the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2012, military personnel who served at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River during its water contamination crisis have also been eligible for another form of help from the VA — free healthcare coverage. Helping grant more eligibility, the qualifying presumptive conditions encompass 15 different illnesses, including:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Female infertility
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Miscarriage
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Renal toxicity
  • Scleroderma

Although some of these conditions do not qualify for disability compensation, the VA healthcare option can reimburse you for any past out-of-pocket medical expenses and assist you with further care.

To apply, you must prove:

  • You were stationed at the military base for over 30 consecutive days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987
  • You did not receive a dishonorable discharge from the military
  • You have been diagnosed with 1 of the 15 presumptive conditions
  • You received paid medical treatment for your health conditions either from the time period of January 1, 1957, through December 31, 1987, or August 1, 1953, through December 31, 1956

Eligibility for family

Family members stationed at Camp Lejeune during the time of contamination with a diagnosis of any of the above 15 conditions may also be eligible for VA healthcare. For eligibility, you must provide evidence that shows:

  • Your relationship to the veteran who served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days
  • You lived at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987
  • Your diagnosis of 1 of the 15 correlated health conditions
  • You received paid medical treatment for your health conditions either from the time period of January 1, 1957, through December 31, 1987, or August 1, 1953, through December 31, 1956

Personal Injury Lawsuits As a Compensation Option

For years, Camp Lejeune victims have not been able to get full justice for their unrighted harm. Since 1984, the Feres Doctrine prohibited men and women from suing the government for personal injury or death caused by military service — severely limiting pathways to restitution.

In 2022, the PACT Act finally overturned these limitations, bringing a monumental victory to all who unknowingly were exposed to toxins during their time at the base.

Now, qualifying victims can receive benefits and sue the federal government with a water contamination claim.

Under the law, anyone who resided, served, or was otherwise exposed to Camp Lejeune’s water toxicity between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, can file their claim if they developed some type of related harm. This right extends not only to veterans but also family and civilian workers who were present at the base during the specified time period.

What you can recover

Compensation from your wrongful contamination lawsuit can involve past, current, or future medical expenses related to your illness and any wages lost if you were forced to take off work to recover.

You may also sue for any pain and suffering resulting from your diagnosis of one of the presumptive health conditions. Pain and suffering are not deemed entirely physical; if your quality of life has been affected by your condition, you can assert a lawsuit on the grounds of mental pain.

Deadline for filing

Although the government doesn’t have a deadline for settling water contamination lawsuits, it does have a statute of limitations for filing your claim.

To have your case reviewed, you must submit your claim no later than two years after the passage of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which is August 10, 2024.

With a little over a year and a half left to file your claim and get your long-awaited justice, it’s important to act quickly and get started on your claim with the help of a Camp Lejeune lawyer.

How The Leav & Steinberg LLP Team Can Help

When you work with a skilled personal injury attorney in New York for your water contamination claim, you can assure you have all the materials and industry expertise needed for your case.

At Leav & Steinberg LLP, our associates have a deep understanding of the history of Camp Lejeune, and we’re ready to do our part to make the government’s wrongs right. From tracking down military documents and medical evidence to defending you in court, we’ll help you go through the justice process informed and prepared. Each step of the way, we will work with you to hear your struggles personally and educate you on your rights, whether that means visiting you at home or in our New York office.

If you have previously applied for disability benefits for the VA and have been denied, we will also help file an appeal on your behalf.

Your Personal Injury Attorneys in New York

You deserve compensation for your time spent at the contaminated Camp Lejeune military base, no matter if it’s VA benefits and healthcare coverage, a won lawsuit — or all the above.

To start your case, request your free consultation today, and we’ll discuss how to recover maximum compensation for your hardships.

If you’d like to keep in touch with us and stay updated on any Camp Lejeune happenings, follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.