The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has expanded eligibility for disability compensation due to non-Hodgkin’s
lymphoma (NHL) for veterans who served in Vietnam’s offshore waters. This is welcome news for Blue Water veterans
whose claims for compensation benefits had been denied under VA’s earlier more restrictive definition of the disease.
Background: The term NHL includes a number of different conditions that may be
categorized differently under various medical classification systems. Recently, VA expanded its definition of NHL to
include chronic lymphocytic leukemia and small-cell lymphocytic lymphoma, two conditions that VA previously contended were
Grants of Service Connection under the Provisions of 38 CFR § 3.313.
Under the provisions of 38 CFR § 3.313, Veterans who served in Vietnam, including
service in the waters offshore, are entitled to a presumption of service connection for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
We have received questions about the connection between
non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and small-cell lymphocytic lymphoma. Discussions with
medical professionals at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and with our attorneys at the Office of General Counsel
(OGC) led to the conclusion that these diseases should all be considered the same disease for purposes of § 3.313.
We will update the manual to reflect this determination.