April 1, 2004
Rules Change for Presumptive Disabilities for Former POWs
The signing of the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 by President Bush brought some changes to presumptive disabilities for former POWs.
Presumptions of service connection relating to diseases and disabilities of former POWs has been amended to remove the requirement that a former POW be held in captivity for a minimum of 30 days in order
for certain disabilities to be service connected under the presumptive provisions of the law. These disabilities are:
· any of the anxiety states;
· dysthymic disorder (or depressive neurosis);
· organic residuals of frostbite; and,
· post-traumatic arthritis.
The requirement that a former POW be held for a minimum of 30 days remains in effect for the following conditions, including cirrhosis of the liver, which has
been added to this list by the Act:
· chronic dysentery;
· any other nutritional deficiency;
· cirrhosis of the liver;
· peripheral neuropathy;
· irritable bowel syndrome; and,
· peptic ulcer disease.
Additionally, Public Law 108-170, the Veterans Health Care, Capital Asset, and Business Improvement Act of 2003, eliminates prescription drug copayments for all former POWs, meaning they won't have to pay the same fees as other veterans.
It also eliminates a rule that former POWs must have been held in captivity for at least 90 days to qualify for dental care. Now, anyone held as a POW can get dental
care without having to show a service-connected cause for dental needs.