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 onset.)
  • 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. §1805).

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 children.

QuestionWhat evidence do I need for a claim?
In an Agent Orange-based claim by a Vietnam veteran for service-connected benefits, VA requires:

  1. a medical diagnosis of a disease which VA recognizes as being associated with Agent Orange,
  2. competent evidence of service in Vietnam, and
  3. competent medical evidence that the disease began within the deadline (if any).

QuestionWhat 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:

  1. competent medical evidence of a current disability;
  2. competent evidence of exposure to an herbicide in Vietnam; and
  3. competent medical evidence of a nexus (causal relationship) between the herbicide exposure and the current disability.
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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.

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