Regional Office Instructions for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma Cases

The following information was discussed in a September 18, 2008 conference call with Service Center Managers and was published in the September, 2008 "Compensation & Pension Service Bulletin."

Claims for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Under 38 CFR 3.313 and the Haas Stay

The following information was discussed in a September 18, 2008 conference call with Service Center Managers and was published in the September, 2008 "Compensation & Pension Service Bulletin."

VA regulations at 38 CFR 3.313 specify that service in Vietnam, including the offshore waters of Vietnam during the Vietnam Era, together with the development of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma manifested subsequent to such service, is sufficient to establish service connection for that disease.

This regulation does not require herbicide exposure as the basis for a presumptive grant of service connection, as is the case with the presumptive diseases listed at 38 CFR 3.309(e). A veteran's service in Vietnam, including service in the offshore waters of Vietnam, is the sole basis for presumptive service connection when non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is diagnosed following service.

In the pending court case of Haas v. Nicholson, which concerns the definition of service in Vietnam and presumptive herbicide exposure, a stay was granted which placed a hold on development of all claims based on herbicide exposure where the veteran did not serve on the ground in Vietnam or on its inland waterways. The majority of claims affected by this stay are from veterans who served in the offshore waters of Vietnam. These veterans are often referred to as "blue water" Navy veterans.

VA Regional Offices (ROs) must be aware that any claim for service connection of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma from a veteran who served in the offshore blue waters of Vietnam is not to be placed under the Haas stay. These claims fall under 38 CFR 3.313, not 3.309, and the veteran is not required to provide evidence of herbicide exposure. These claims must be adjudicated as soon as possible when they are received.


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