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Valley Fever Survivor provides a great deal of important information about coccidioidomycosis and the devastation it has caused in Arizona, California, the Desert Southwest, and all around the world. Please click the items in this section to learn more! Visit our home page http://www.valleyfeversurvivor.com to read updates at the front page and view our introductory video
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Important news for all veterans with Valley Fever

Thanks to the trailblazing done by Mike and Louise Chechak to ensure that Mike received his 100% disability rating, Valley Fever Survivor now has the specific information that veterans need if they are disabled due to Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis). The information below will provide you with ammunition you may need in a fight against the VA over your disability claim.

Sometimes you will need to establish whether your Valley Fever infection can be recognized as having a "service connection." A service connection to the disease is the way you can assign responsibility to the government for stationing you in an area where you became infected. There is also information about how this applies to disability ratings.

            [Code of Federal Regulations]
            [Title 38, Volume 1]
            [Revised as of July 1, 2003]
            From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
            [CITE: 38CFR4.97]
            
            [Page 408-412]
            
             TITLE 38--PENSIONS, BONUSES, AND VETERANS' RELIEF

             CHAPTER I--DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

            PART 4--SCHEDULE FOR RATING DISABILITIES--Table of Contents

             Subpart B--Disability Ratings

            Sec. 4.97 Schedule of ratings--respiratory system.

            [on page 411]
            ------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Mycotic Lung Disease
            ------------------------------------------------------------------------
            6834 Histoplasmosis of lung.
            6835 Coccidioidomycosis.
            6836 Blastomycosis.
            6837 Cryptococcosis.
            6838 Aspergillosis.
            6839 Mucormycosis.
             General Rating Formula for Mycotic Lung Disease (diagnostic
             codes 6834 through 6839):
             [note: The numbers below indicate the percentage of disability awarded.
             100 means 100% disability, 50 means 50% disability, etc.]
             Chronic pulmonary mycosis with persistent fever, weight
             loss, night sweats, or massive hemoptysis.............                     100
             Chronic pulmonary mycosis requiring suppressive therapy
             with no more than minimal symptoms such as occasional
             minor hemoptysis or productive cough..................                     50
             Chronic pulmonary mycosis with minimal symptoms such as
             occasional minor hemoptysis or productive cough.......                30
             Healed and inactive mycotic lesions, asymptomatic......                 0
            
             Note: Coccidioidomycosis has an incubation period up to 21
             days, and the disseminated phase is ordinarily manifest
             within six months of the primary phase. However, there are
             instances of dissemination delayed up to many years after
             the initial infection which may have been unrecognized.
             Accordingly, when service connection is under
             consideration in the absence of record or other evidence
             of the disease in service, service in southwestern United
             States where the disease is endemic and absence of
             prolonged residence in this locality before or after
             service will be the deciding factor.
            ------------------------------------------------------------------------

Unfortunately, this specific regulation does not address specific consequences of disseminated cocci. At least it mentions the possibility. It might be important in some disability cases to note the following:

            [Code of Federal Regulations]
            [Title 38, Volume 1]
            [Revised as of July 1, 2003]
            From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
            [CITE: 38CFR3.309]
            
            [Page 238-242]
            
             TITLE 38--PENSIONS, BONUSES, AND VETERANS' RELIEF
            
             CHAPTER I--DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
            
            PART 3--ADJUDICATION--Table of Contents
            
             Subpart A--Pension, Compensation, and Dependency and Indemnity
             Compensation
            
            Sec. 3.309 Disease subject to presumptive service connection.
            
             (a) Chronic diseases. The following diseases shall be granted
            service connection although not otherwise established as incurred in or
            aggravated by service if manifested to a compensable degree within the
            applicable time limits under Sec. 3.307 following service in a period of
            war or following peacetime service on or after January 1, 1947, provided
            the rebuttable presumption provisions of Sec. 3.307 are also satisfied.
            ------------------------------------------------------------------------

Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis) is on this list as a chronic disease. It is worth noting that in 38CFR3.307, the time limits on the service connection of chronic diseases should not have specific relevance to cocci, because it can manifest its symptoms years after the initial exposure and reactivate as much as 45 years later as well. However, here is a quote from 38CFR3.307 to demonstrate the spirit of what it intends for chronic diseases.

            [Code of Federal Regulations]
            [Title 38, Volume 1]
            [Revised as of July 1, 2003]
            From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
            [CITE: 38CFR3.307]
            
            [Page 235-237]
            
            The disease must have become manifest to a degree of 10 percent or more
            within 1 year (for Hansen's disease (leprosy) and tuberculosis, within 3
            years; multiple sclerosis, within 7 years) from the date of separation from
            service as specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section.
            ------------------------------------------------------------------------

It is a mixed blessing to veterans that no length of time for the onset of coccidioidomycosis was mentioned in the regulation above. It could be good, since cocci itself has had such wildly differing time frames of onset in different cases. It could also be bad because the lack of an explicit mention in law may allow a judge who is not knowledgeable on this issue to deny the full benefits a veteran is rightfully due.

However, the downside may be mitigated. 38CFR3.307 says "No condition other than one listed in Sec. 3.309(a) will be considered chronic." Since coccidioidomycosis is listed in 38CFR3.309(a), that means cocci is clearly codified as a chronic disease that can be connected to military service. 38CFR4.97 shows that a 100% disability rating can be awarded to veterans who are disabled by cocci.

Other factors are obviously important. For example, if someone chooses to live in an area endemic to Valley Fever (like Arizona) before his military service, and then was stationed in a base in Arizona, a Valley Fever illness might be considered the result of either residence in the area as a civilian or during military duty. The same is true if a retired veteran chose to stay in areas that are endemic to this disease. Although typical Valley Fever incubation times might be helpful in demonstrating a service connection, disability claims such as these would be difficult. In cases for veterans from outside the endemic areas who were only placed in these areas for their military duty, a service connection should not be nearly as difficult to establish.

Caveats aside, the legal tools presented here should be helpful in many legal cases. Veterans seeking compensation for a Valley Fever case with a service connection should be sure their legal representatives are aware of the information on this web page.

This information was last accessed on May 21, 2004 from the Code of Federal Regulations. Additional information about the CFRs and CFR updates can be found at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/
 


 
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