Thursday, November 19, 2015

Social Security: Burn Pit Lung Illness is a Disability

The Social Security Disability program has listed Obliterative Bronchiolitis as a disability under its Compassionate Allowances Conditions (CAL). Obliterative Bronchiolitis is a pulmonary/lung disability causally connected to exposure to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In addition to Social Security benefits,  the pending Burn Pit Lawsuit seeks compensation, medical care and future medical monitoring for those veterans, private military contractors and civilian employees who have been exposed. The case is now pending in US District Court and the Court has permitted people to be added to the case (see below).

Social Security Compassionate Allowances (CAL) are a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that invariably qualify under the Listing of Impairments based on minimal objective medical information. Compassionate Allowances allow Social Security to target the most obviously disabled individuals for allowances based on objective medical information that  can be obtain quickly. Compassionate Allowances is not a separate program from the Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income programs.

“Obliterative Bronchiolitis (OB) is a rare, irreversible, life-threatening form of interstitial lung disease that occurs when the small airway branches of the lungs (bronchioles) are compressed and narrowed by scar tissue (fibrosis) and inflammation. Extensive scarring results in decreased lung function. Causes of OB include collagen vascular disease, organ transplant rejection, viral infections, drug reactions, prematurity complications, rheumatoid arthritis, oral emergency medicines (for example, activated charcoal), exposure to toxic fumes (for example, diacetyl, sulfur dioxide, ammonia, chlorine, mustard gas, ozone), and idiopathic (no known cause). Symptoms of OB include coughing (usually without phlegm), shortness of breath on exertion, wheezing, fever, night sweats, weight loss, frequent or persistent eye, nose, and throat or skin irritation.”

Also, a consolidated lawsuit is now proceeding  in the US District Court against KBR, a government contractor. The lawsuit alleges that KBR, exposed American service members and private civilian contract workers to dangerous and toxic fumes from its unauthorized use of open-air surface burn pits. The exposed individuals and their families brought a lawsuit against KBR for its allegedly improper use of the burn pits and for failing to warn veterans and civilians of the hazards of being exposed. 

The cases allege that prolonged exposure to the burn pits' smoke, ash and fumes that may have resulted in chronic diseases, risk of future illness and death. The lawsuit alleges that KBR burned large amounts of unsorted waste, including hazardous waste, medical waste, and human waste, at military facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The cases In re KBR Inc, Burn Pit Litigation, have been consolidated, and are venued in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Greenbelt Division, before Judge Roger W. Titus.

Click here to read more about burn pit claims for benefits and lawsuits. 

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