Agent Orange Benefits
General Information About Agent Orange Benefits
Approximately 20 million gallons of herbicides were used in Vietnam between
1962 and 1971 to remove unwanted plant life and leaves which otherwise provided
cover for enemy forces during the Vietnam Conflict. Shortly following their
military service in Vietnam, some veterans reported a variety of health problems
and concerns which some of them attributed to exposure to Agent Orange or other
herbicides. The Department of Veterans Affairs has developed a comprehensive
program to respond to these medical problems and concerns. The principal
elements of this program include quality healthcare services, disability
compensation for veterans with service-connected illnesses, scientific research
and outreach and education.
Current Conditions Considered by VA Presumptive to AO Exposure
These are the diseases which VA currently presumes resulted from exposure to
herbicides like Agent Orange. The law requires that some of these diseases be at
least 10% disabling under VA's rating regulations within a deadline that began
to run the day you left Vietnam. If there is a deadline, it is listed in
parentheses after the name of the disease.
- Chloracne or other acneform disease consistent with
chloracne. (Must occur within one year of exposure to Agent Orange).
- Hodgkin's disease
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy. (For purposes
of this section, the term acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy means
temporary peripheral neuropathy that appears within weeks or months of
exposure to an herbicide agent and resolves within two years of the date of
- Porphyria cutanea tarda. (Must occur within one year of
exposure to Agent Orange).
- Prostate cancer
- Respiratory cancers (cancer of the lung, bronchus,
larynx, or trachea).
- Soft-tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma,
chondrosarcoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, or mesothelioma).
Diabetes mellitus (Type II, adult onset)
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
Special Compensation for Disease
As with other veterans, Vietnam veterans with disabilities incurred or
aggravated by military service may receive monthly VA compensation. As knowledge
has grown from studies of Agent Orange, some diseases that may not have become
evident in service have been recognized as service-connected. In addition,
monetary benefits, health care and vocational rehabilitation services are
provided to Vietnam veterans' offspring with spina bifida, a congenital birth
defect of the spine. VA presumes that all military personnel who served in
Vietnam and who have one of the listed diseases were exposed to Agent Orange.
Agent Orange and Birth Defects
The Veterans’ Benefits Act of 1997 granted benefits for children of Vietnam
veterans who were suffering from
spina bifida (38 U.S.C.
Under Public Law 106-419, VA identified the birth defects of children of
women Vietnam veterans that:
- are associated with Vietnam service; and
- result in permanent physical or mental disability.
Birth defects not included in this benefit program as those abnormalities
that result from the following:
- a familial disorder;
- a birth-related injury,
- a fetal or neonatal infirmity with well-established causes.
The law defines the term "child" as an individual, regardless of age or
marital status that is the natural child of a woman Vietnam veteran, and was
conceived after the veteran first entered Vietnam. The legislation provides for
health care services, vocational training, and a monthly allowance for eligible
What evidence do I need for a claim?
In an Agent Orange-based claim by a Vietnam veteran for
service-connected benefits, VA requires:
- a medical diagnosis of a disease which VA recognizes as being associated
with Agent Orange,
- competent evidence of service in Vietnam, and
- competent medical evidence that the disease began within the deadline
If I Served in Vietnam and Have a Disease Not on VA's List?
If you served in Vietnam and believe that you have a disease caused by
herbicide exposure, but that disease is not on VA’s list of diseases associated
with herbicides like Agent Orange, you may still apply for service-connection.
Such a veteran needs to establish entitlement to service connection on a
“direct” (rather than “presumptive”) basis. In these cases, VA requires:
- competent medical evidence of a current disability;
- competent evidence of exposure to an herbicide in Vietnam; and
- competent medical evidence of a nexus (causal relationship) between the
herbicide exposure and the current disability.
Your CVSO can assist you in obtaining relevant documents and submitting your
claim to the appropriate VA regional office. Please contact us so that we
may offer our assistance and guidance.