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Disability Compensation for Former Prisoners of War (POWs)

Former POWs are eligible for VA compensation for disabilities related to their military service and captivity. Certain conditions are presumed to be related to time in captivity. These presumptive disabilities are based on studies of the long-term effects of captivity, deprivation, trauma, and cold injury on former POWs. If a former POW is diagnosed as having one or more of these conditions to a degree that is at least 10 percent disabling, VA presumes that it is associated with the POW experience. Over 16,000 POWs are receiving disability compensation for service-connected injuries, diseases, or illnesses.

Disabilities Subject to a Presumption of Service Connection for Former POWs

Former POWs who are diagnosed with any of the conditions in the categories below are presumed to be service-connected for those conditions, regardless of their length of time in captivity:

  • Osteoporosis (on or after October 10, 2008, if the POW has PTSD)
  • Neuro-Psychiatric, including psychosis, dysthymic disorder (Depressive Neurosis), any of the Anxiety States (e.g., PTSD)
  • Cold Injury
  • Traumatic Arthritis
  • Stroke
  • Heart Disease

The following additional conditions are presumed to be service-connected for former POWs who were captive for 30 days or more:

  • Osteoporosis (on or after September 28, 2009)
  • Nutritional deficiencies, including avitaminosis, beriberi, malnutrition, and pellagra
  • Helminthiasis
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Digestive disorders, including peptic ulcer disease, chronic dysentery, irritable bowel syndrome, and cirrhosis of the liver

How to Apply

For more information on how to apply and for tips on making sure your claim is ready to be processed by VA, visit our How to Apply page.