How to Navigate the VA Burn Pit Registry

Burn pits were a common waste disposal practice at military sites outside of the U.S. in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was later found that smoke and other emissions contained an unknown mixture of substances that may have short- and long-term health effects for those who served in those locations.

That was especially true for individuals who were exposed for longer periods or those with pre-existing conditions such as asthma or other lung or heart conditions.

After the negative health effects of burn pits became known, the VA established the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry (AHOBPR) in 2014 to help put data to work for Veterans through research about the potential health effects of airborne hazard exposures.

Why is the VA Burn Pit Registry Important?

It’s estimated about 3 million service members were exposed to these hazardous conditions, qualifying them to participate in the VA Burn Pit Registry.  To date, about 300,000 Veterans have signed up to lend their important health information to the registry while strengthening their cases to connect to VA healthcare and other related services.

This collective gathering of data provides much-needed insights into how burn pits affected active duty personnel and how exposure continues to affect Veterans.

Eligibility Criteria for the VA Burn Pit Registry

Under the PACT Act, depending on where and when a Veteran served, they are automatically assumed to have been exposed to burn pit toxins.  That is known as a presumptive condition for burn pit exposure.

If you are a Veteran who served in any of these locations and periods, the VA has determined that you had exposure to burn pits or other toxins.

On or after September 11, 2001, in any of these locations

  • Afghanistan
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Syria
  • Uzbekistan
  • Yemen
  • The airspace above any of these locations

On or after August 2, 1990, in any of these locations

  • Bahrain
  • Iraq
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • The airspace above any of these locations

Operations and campaigns include Desert Shield and Desert Storm (ODS/S), Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Enduring Freedom (OEF), and New Dawn (OND).

You do not have to have been exposed to specific airborne hazards or have related health concerns to participate in the registry.

While these hazards may have been present in other locations or during other periods, participation in the registry is currently limited to support specific research and public health studies.

It’s essential to note that you don’t have to participate in the registry to receive compensation and benefits or health care from VA.

After a Veteran completes the burn pit registry questionnaire, VA will contact them to schedule a free environmental health evaluation at a local VA medical facility if they choose to go through that step.

One of the critical benefits of a medical evaluation is that the information is used to support research into the health effects of airborne hazards.

This exam cannot negatively impact your VA claim.  In fact, you can save and submit your registry questionnaire and notes from the evaluation to support your claim.

You can join the Burn Pit Registry even if:

  • You don’t think you were exposed to specific airborne hazards.
  • You are not experiencing symptoms or illnesses you think are related to your exposures.
  • You have not filed a VA claim for compensation and benefits or applied for VA health care.
  • You are still an active duty service member or reservist or have returned to active service.

If you are not eligible for the registry but are concerned about your exposures, with guidance from Veteran Ratings, you can still file a claim for compensation and benefits.

Documenting Exposure: Required Information for the Registry

The Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry consists of an online questionnaire and a recommended medical evaluation.

You must have a Premium DS Logon (Defense Self-service Logon) Level 2 account to sign in to the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit RegistryAbout the Registry page on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.

You will be asked a series of questions, including:

  • Where and when you were deployed
  • Conditions and health issues that cause difficulty with daily activities
  • Current and past health symptoms
  • Where you’ve lived
  • The type of work you do and have done
  • Dust, gas, vapors, or fumes exposures
  • Home environment and hobbies
  • How and when you seek healthcare
  • Contact preferences

Benefits of Registering with the VA Burn Pit Registry

If you’re an eligible Veteran, you can document exposures and proactively identify health concerns, guide discussions with your healthcare provider while helping the VA and DOD better understand the long-term effects of airborne hazard exposures.  This will lead to improved programs and health care for service members and veterans.

Joining the registry cannot negatively impact your VA claim or access to care. You can join even if you aren’t enrolled in VA health care, or you can submit your registry information to support your claim if you choose.

Registering with the VA Burn Pit Registry

To check your eligibility for the registry and complete the online questionnaire, visit the secure registry portal to start your Burn Pit Registry process.

How The VA Determines Your Burn Pit Disability Rating

Based on the PACT Act, the VA added more than 20 burn pit and other toxic exposure presumptive conditions.  This change expands benefits for Gulf War era and post-9/11 Veterans.

If the VA denied your disability claim in the past and it now considers your condition presumptive, you can work with Veteran Ratings and their partners to consult you on filing a Supplemental Claim for the VA to review your case again.

You may be eligible for disability compensation if you meet these 3 requirements.

All of these must be true:

  • You have a diagnosed illness or other health condition that’s caused by exposure to a specific toxic hazard in the air, soil, or water, and
  • You served on active duty in a location that exposed you to the hazard, and
  • You didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge

The VA does not have a standard disability rating for burn pit exposure. As part of the claim review process, the VA will consider a Veteran’s medical symptoms and how they impair their ability to work and provide for their family.

The VA grades disability claims based on the severity of the disability on a scale from 0% to 100%. The higher the rating, the more compensation the veteran will receive. Most of the illnesses on the burn pits presumptive list are rated at 10%, 30%, 60%, or 100%.

Individual burn pit presumptive conditions may be awarded different levels of disability ratings.

For example, burn pit-related cancers are rated at 100% while active and for six months after treatments end. After six months, the Veteran is asked to return to a VA facility for a C&P to be rated for any residual conditions.

Bronchitis and Bronchiolitis are rated based on the frequency, duration, and severity of incapacitating episodes.  In this case, a 10% rating is awarded when a Veteran has an intermittent productive cough with occasional infection requiring a course of antibiotics at least twice a year.  A disability rating will jump to 60% when episodes last 4-6 weeks (combined) during a year or near constant coughing up mucus containing pus or blood, with anorexia, weight loss, and requiring antibiotic usage almost continuously.

Granulomatous Rhinitis is rated at 20% or 100%. A diagnosed Granulomatous infection is rated at 20%. The more lethal Wegener’s granulomatosis is rated at 100%.

The wide variations on these ratings place an even greater emphasis on pulling together thorough documentation that a Veteran can submit to give them the best chance at a disability rating approval at the highest possible percentage.



Frequently Asked Questions About the VA Burn Pit Registry

Is registering with the VA Burn Pit Registry mandatory?

No, but there are several benefits to participating, as noted above.

Will registering with the VA Burn Pit Registry guarantee me healthcare or compensation?

No.  However, registration can help strengthen a claim for benefits and compensation.

Why does the Burn Pit questionnaire ask about my current job and hobbies?

Medical providers need to have a complete picture of your health. The questionnaire asks a broad range of questions because a Veteran’s health is influenced by their lifestyle. Health conditions can worsen over time from additional or prolonged exposures due to work or recreation.

How much do Veterans get for burn pit exposure?

As with all other disability claims, it depends on the rating you receive from the VA.  The higher the disability rating, the higher the amount you may receive.

For example, a Veteran with a 100% disabling burn pit rating receives a minimum of $3,621 tax-free in 2023.  For each Veteran’s dependents, including adult children and dependent parents, the monthly payment increases by a set amount per dependent tied to the severity of the Veteran’s illness.

The following payment rates are from the VA’s 2023 disability compensation rates tables and will give you an idea of what to expect if your claim is approved at various ratings.

Get In Touch

If you are struggling with your VA disability rating or want to learn more about our service, please get in touch with our Veteran Ratings team.

Don’t hesitate! We are happy to answer any of your questions and provide guidance for your unique case.

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