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August 21, 2023

23 Burn Pit Presumptive Conditions Added by the VA PACT Act

Last updated on October 30, 2023

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This guide lists all of the burn pit presumptive conditions. You may qualify for VA benefits and compensation if you served in a location with operational burn pits.

The VA PACT Act is a monumental document for veterans and their families. 


One reason is that it acknowledges and addresses VA benefits for exposure to toxic military burn pits—a subject that had been shamefully swept under the rug for too long. 

One of the things that stands out in the VA PACT Act is the addition of 23 presumptive conditions for exposure to burn pits. 

With the addition of the PACT Act’s 23 presumptive conditions—there are now 24 total burn pit presumptive conditions.

Understanding these burn pit presumptive conditions will provide much-needed VA disability benefits and compensation for thousands of American veterans.

Let’s dive in!



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What are the 23 Presumptive Conditions in the PACT Act?

The Burn Pit Presumptive Conditions List

There are 24 TOTAL burn pit presumptive conditions, with 23 presumptive conditions added by the VA PACT Act of 2022, including:

1. Asthma (cannot have been diagnosed before discharge)

2. Chronic Bronchitis

3. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

4. Constrictive or obliterative bronchiolitis

5. Emphysema

6. Granulomatous disease

7. Interstitial lung diseases

8. Pleuritis

9. Pulmonary Fibrosis

10. Sarcoidosis

11. Chronic Sinusitis

12. Chronic Rhinitis

13. Glioblastoma

14. Head cancer

15. Neck cancer

16. Respiratory cancer (such as lung, bronchus, larynx, or trachea)

17. Gastrointestinal cancer

18. Reproductive cancer

19. Lymphoma

20. Lymphomatic cancer

21. Kidney cancer

22. Brain cancer

23. Melanoma

24. Pancreatic cancer

These conditions are presumed by the VA to be related to burn pit exposure for veterans who have served in locations with operational burn pits. 


Burn Pit Presumptive Conditions Explained in Detail

Asthma – It’s a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways that causes recurring symptoms like wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing. Being close to smoke-filled burn pits can intensify asthma symptoms.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – A group of progressive lung diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoke from burn pits can contribute to the development of COPD.

Sinusitis and Rhinitis – These are inflammations of the sinuses and nose, respectively. Exposure to harmful fumes can trigger these conditions.

Cancers – The list continues with various cancers, including lung cancer, kidney cancer, lymphoma, and more. Exposure to the toxins in burn pit smoke may increase the risk of developing these cancers.

Respiratory diseases – Interstitial lung disease and pulmonary fibrosis are also considered presumptive conditions. Burn pit exposure is often linked to the cause of these conditions.

With this broad range of conditions, it’s clear that the harm burn pits pose to veterans is tremendous, affecting various systems within the body. 

Some conditions are better understood than others in relation to burn pit fumes, but all are now eligible for presumptive status thanks to the VA PACT Act 2022. 

It’s also important to note that the list of burn pit presumptive conditions may continue to grow as more research is conducted on the health effects of burn pit exposure.

The Good News About VA Presumptive Conditions

Presumptive conditions, by definition, are medical conditions that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) concedes are connected to military service. 

Without requiring further proof of direct service connection, these conditions are assumed to have been caused or aggravated by a veteran’s exposure to specific toxic compounds or harmful environments during their service time. 

If you’re diagnosed with one of these burn pit presumptive conditions, it’s assumed that your condition is connected to your exposure to burn pits. 

This is good news when it comes to your VA benefits because:

  • A presumptive condition satisfies the second critical part of the Caluza Triangle—proof of an in-service event, illness, disease, or aggravation. 

With a medical diagnosis of a presumptive condition and a nexus statement (confirming service connection), you may qualify for VA disability benefits and compensation.

PRO TIP: For more information about presumptive conditions and how the VA rates presumptives, see “What Are VA Presumptive Conditions?”


What Exactly Does Burn Pit Exposure Mean?

Burn pit exposure refers to inhaling toxic fumes and particles released by burning waste in open-air pits, commonly at military bases. 

Veterans and workers in locations like Iraq and Afghanistan have experienced prolonged respiratory and skin issues due to their exposure.

Burn Pit Compensation

Can you get burn pit compensation? Absolutely!

If you have an illness or cancer that’s on the burn pit presumptive list and meet the service requirements, you could be eligible for a VA disability rating, benefits, and compensation.

However, there is no broad brush percentage awarded for burn pit presumptives. Each presumptive illness or cancer is rated individually according to its own diagnostic code (DC). DCs are unique codes the VA assigns to ratable conditions. 

See the VA Disability Pay charts from 0-100% here.

Each DC has specific requirements for service connection and what disability percentage can be awarded. The percentage you’re awarded will depend on the severity of your symptoms.

Military Burn Pits Cancer

Military burn pits cancer is a huge point of discussion in the military right now. More and more evidence shows that burn pits throw toxic chemicals and particles into the air. 

This toxic byproduct is horrible for you if inhaled, and thousands of veterans lived near one for upwards of a year while deployed.

We now know military burn pits and cancer are correlated. So many veterans are suffering from military burn pit cancer that the VA had to update the burn pit presumptive condition list—adding 11 cancers with the passing of the PACT Act:

  • Brain cancer
  • Gastrointestinal cancer of any type
  • Glioblastoma
  • Head cancer of any type
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lymphoma of any type
  • Melanoma
  • Neck cancer of any type
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Reproductive cancer of any type
  • Respiratory cancer of any type

The entire list of military burn pit cancers the VA considers presumptive is pages long. The cancer categories are:

  • Brain
  • Head
  • Neck
  • Nervous system
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Kidney 
  • Lymphomas
  • Melanoma
  • Pancreatic 
  • Reproductive 
  • Respiratory

You can see the entire list of military burn pit cancers on the VA’s website.

Provisions and Regulations Under the PACT Act

The VA PACT Act of 2022 mandates that the VA accept certain diseases related to exposure to onsite burn pits. 

This legal provision means that if a veteran has one of the 24 presumptive conditions and served in a location with operational burn pits, their illness will be presumed to be service-connected for VA disability compensation purposes.

Previously, veterans had to prove a direct service connection to their illness, a process that was often lengthy and cumbersome. 

These new provisions enable more veterans to access the benefits they deserve in a timelier manner.

Why Is Burn Pit Exposure a Serious Health Concern?

Scientific studies have shown an association between burn pit exposure and chronic health problems, reinforcing the detrimental health effects borne by our veterans.

The toxic brew of chemicals released by the burning pit can remain latent within the body, only manifesting symptoms years after initial exposure. 

As a result, many veterans realize the influence of burn pit exposure on their health long after they’ve retired from active service.

The ‘long-term effects of burn pit exposure can affect multiple organ systems and often lead to severe diseases such as: 

  • neurological disorders
  • respiratory diseases, and 
  • different types of cancers

Many veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have reported an array of diverse health problems, including: 


Understanding the burn pit presumptive conditions is vital for veterans seeking VA disability benefits for burn pit presumptives. 

The VA PACT Act of 2022 was created to expand VA health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances (such as Agent Orange and burn pits).

The law will provide veterans (and their survivors) with the health care and benefits they deserve.

The VA PACT Act provides a comprehensive list of burn pit presumptive conditions linked to toxic exposure. It makes service connection easier for veterans who served in areas with operational burn pits.

The list of presumptive conditions in the PACT Act acknowledges the range and severity of these conditions and helps to speed up the VA benefits application process. 

By qualifying for these presumptive conditions, you may receive the VA benefits and compensation you deserve—faster.

The fight against burn pit exposure continues, but the VA PACT Act brings us one step closer to victory. So, keep pushing forward, stay informed, and see your doctor if you think you have any of these burn pit presumptive conditions.


(FAQs) Frequently Asked Questions About Presumptive Conditions for Burn Pit Exposure 

What are the 23 Presumptive Conditions for Burn Pit Exposure?

There are actually 24 total presumptives for burn pit exposure, with 23 presumptive conditions in the PACT Act. 

Burn pit presumptive conditions include: Asthma (if not diagnosed before discharge), Chronic Bronchitis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Constrictive or obliterative bronchiolitis, Emphysema, Granulomatous disease, Interstitial lung diseases, Pleuritis, Pulmonary Fibrosis, Sarcoidosis, Chronic Sinusitis, Chronic Rhinitis, Glioblastoma, Head cancer, Neck cancer, Respiratory cancer (such as lung, bronchus, larynx, or trachea), Gastrointestinal cancer, Reproductive cancer, Lymphoma, Lymphomatic cancer, Kidney cancer, Brain cancer, Melanoma, and Pancreatic Cancer. 

What is a Burn Pit?

A burn pit refers to an area of a military deployment site where waste is burned in the open air. The practice was common in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan but has been linked to health issues for service members exposed to the pits.

How Does Burn Pit Exposure Affect Veterans?

Burn pit exposure can lead to various health issues, including respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, certain types of cancer, and rarer conditions like constrictive bronchiolitis.

Are All Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Eligible for the Presumptive Conditions?

Not necessarily. Determination of eligibility for benefits due to burn pit exposure depends on a veteran’s specific circumstances and medical history and specific policy definitions by the Department of Veteran Affairs.

What is the Burn Pit Disability Percentage?

There is no burn pit disability percentage. However, several ratable conditions can be caused by burn pit exposure. Many of these conditions are now on the “presumptive” conditions list.

What is a Presumptive Condition in the VA?

A presumptive condition refers to certain diseases or conditions the VA presumes are related to a veteran’s military service. This simplifies the process for a veteran when applying for disability benefits.

What is the Burn Pit Registry?

The Burn Pit Registry is a research database where veterans and service members exposed to burn pits or other airborne hazards during their military service can document their exposures and report health concerns.

How Do I Get Registered on the Burn Pit Registry?

You can register for the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry here.

Can I Receive Disability Benefits for Burn Pit Exposure?

If you’re medically diagnosed with one of the 24 burn pit presumptive conditions, you won’t need to prove an in-service event, stressor, illness, or aggravation. This greatly increases your chances of qualifying for VA disability benefits and compensation.

How Does the VA Determine if a Condition is Caused by Burn Pit Exposure?

The VA conducts a medical examination and evaluates medical and scientific evidence when determining if a medical condition is related to burn pit exposure.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Decision on a Claim from the VA?

Claim processing times can vary, but on average, the VA may take several months to make a decision. The exact time frame depends on various factors, such as the complexity of the condition, the need for additional evidence or medical exams, and the overall workload of the VA office handling the claim.



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