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Agent Orange exposure and VA disability compensation

Agent Orange was a tactical herbicide the U.S. military used to clear leaves and vegetation for military operations mainly during the Vietnam War. Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange may have certain related illnesses.

If you have an illness caused by exposure to Agent Orange during military service, read below to find out if you may be eligible for disability compensation and how to apply.

Am I eligible for VA disability benefits based on exposure to Agent Orange?

You may be eligible for VA disability benefits if you meet both of the requirements listed below.

Both of these must be true. You:

  • Have an illness that’s caused by exposure to Agent Orange, and
  • Served in a location that exposed you to Agent Orange

Read the full eligibility requirements below.

Full eligibility requirements 

We determine eligibility based on the facts of each Veteran’s claim. But we assume that certain cancers and other illnesses are caused by Agent Orange. We call these presumptive diseases. And we assume that Veterans who served in certain locations were exposed to Agent Orange. We refer to this as presumptive exposure.

Requirements for Agent Orange presumptive diseases

When sound medical and scientific evidence shows that an illness is caused by Agent Orange exposure, we add it to our list of presumptive diseases. If you’ve been diagnosed with one of these illnesses, you don’t need to prove that it started during—or got worse because of—your military service.

  • Bladder cancer: A type of cancer that affects the bladder where urine is stored before it leaves the body. The most common type of bladder cancer starts in the cells that line the inside of the bladder. This is called urothelial or transitional cell carcinoma.
  • Chronic B-cell leukemia: A type of cancer that affects white blood cells. These are cells in the body’s immune system that help to fight off illnesses and infections.
  • Hodgkin’s disease: A type of malignant lymphoma (cancer) that causes the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen to grow progressively larger. It also causes red blood cells to decrease more and more over time (called anemia).
  • Multiple myeloma: A type of cancer that affects the plasma cells. These are a type of white blood cells made in the bone marrow that help to fight infection.
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: A group of cancers that affect the lymph glands and other lymphatic tissue. These are parts of the immune system that help to fight infection and illness.
  • Prostate cancer: Cancer of the prostate and one of the most common cancers among men
  • Respiratory cancers (including lung cancer): Cancers of the organs involved in breathing. These include cancers of the lungs, larynx, trachea, and bronchus.
  • Some soft tissue sarcomasA group of different types of cancers in body tissues such as muscle, fat, blood and lymph vessels, and connective tissues. We don’t include osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma on our list of presumptive diseases.
  • AL amyloidosis: A rare illness that happens when an abnormal protein (called amyloid) enters the body’s tissues or organs. These include the organs like the heart, kidneys, or liver.
  • Chloracne (or other types of acneiform disease like it): A skin condition that happens soon after exposure to chemicals. It looks like common forms of acne often seen in teenagers. Under our rating regulations, this condition must be at least 10% disabling within 1 year of herbicide exposure.
  • Diabetes mellitus type 2: An illness that happens when the body can’t respond to the hormone insulin the way it should. This leads to high blood sugar levels.
  • Hypothyroidism: A condition that causes the thyroid gland to not produce enough of certain important hormones. Hypothyroidism can cause health problems like obesity, joint pain, infertility, and heart disease.
  • Ischemic heart disease: A type of heart disease that happens when the heart doesn’t get enough blood. This leads to chest pain.
  • Parkinsonism: Any condition that causes a combination of abnormal movements. These include slow movements, trouble speaking, stiff muscles, or tremors. Tremors are rhythmic shaking movements in a part of the body caused by muscle contractions that you can't control.
  • Parkinson’s disease: A progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects muscle movement—and often worsens over time. The nervous system is the network of nerves and fibers that send messages between the brain and spinal cord and other areas of the body.
  • Peripheral neuropathy, early onset: An illness of the nervous system that causes numbness, tingling, and motor (or muscle) weakness. Under our rating regulations, this condition must be at least 10% disabling within 1 year of herbicide exposure.
  • Porphyria cutanea tarda: A rare illness that can make the liver stop working the way it should. It can also cause the skin to thin and blister when exposed to the sun. Under our rating regulations, this condition must be at least 10% disabling within 1 year of herbicide exposure.

 

If you have an illness that’s not on our list of presumptive diseases, but you believe it was caused by Agent Orange exposure, you can still file a claim for VA disability benefits. But you’ll need to submit more evidence. Keep reading to learn about service requirements and supporting evidence.

Service requirements for presumption of exposure

We base eligibility for VA disability compensation benefits, in part, on whether you served in a location that exposed you to Agent Orange. We call this having a presumption of exposure.

You have a presumption of exposure if you meet at least one of the service requirements listed below.

Between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, you must have served for any length of time in at least one of these locations:

  • In the Republic of Vietnam, or
  • Aboard a U.S. military vessel that operated in the inland waterways of Vietnam, or
  • On a vessel operating not more than 12 nautical miles seaward from the demarcation line of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia, or
  • On regular perimeter duty on the fenced-in perimeters of a U.S. Army installation in Thailand or a Royal Thai Air Force base. These bases include U-Tapao, Ubon, Nakhon Phanom, Udorn, Takhli, Korat, or Don Muang.

Or at least one of these must be true. You:

  • Served in or near the Korean DMZ for any length of time between September 1, 1967, and August 31, 1971, or
  • Served on active duty in a regular Air Force unit location where a C-123 aircraft with traces of Agent Orange was assigned, and had repeated contact with this aircraft due to your flight, ground, or medical duties, or
  • Were involved in transporting, testing, storing, or other uses of Agent Orange during your military service, or
  • Were assigned as a Reservist to certain flight, ground, or medical crew duties at one of the below locations.

Eligible Reserve locations, time periods, and units include:

  • Lockbourne/Rickenbacker Air Force Base in Ohio, 1969 to 1986 (906th and 907th Tactical Air Groups or 355th and 356th Tactical Airlift Squadrons)
  • Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts, 1972 to 1982 (731st Tactical Air Squadron and 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, or 901st Organizational Maintenance Squadron)
  • Pittsburgh International Airport in Pennsylvania, 1972 to 1982 (758th Airlift Squadron)

 

For more service requirement details, review:

Public Law 116-23 (Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019)

Air Force specialty codes and units for affected C-123 aircraft (PDF)

Dates and locations of herbicide tests and storage outside Vietnam 


How to get disability benefits for Agent Orange–related claims

How do I get these benefits?

For disability benefits, you'll need to:

What evidence will I need to submit with my claim?

You'll need to submit these records:

  • A medical record that shows you have an Agent Orange‒related illness, and
  • Military records to show how you were exposed to Agent Orange during your service

If your illness isn't on the list of presumptive diseases, you’ll also need to provide at least one of these types of evidence:

  • Evidence that shows the problem started during—or got worse because of—your military service, or
  • Scientific or medical evidence stating that the illness you have is caused by Agent Orange. Scientific proof may include an article from a medical journal or a published research study.

Get your VA medical records online

What military records will I need to submit?

You’ll need to submit your discharge or separation papers that show your time and location of service. These may include your DD214 or other separation documents.

For certain claims, you may also need more supporting documents.

    Submit documents that show you had regular perimeter security duty. These may include your:

    • Daily work logs
    • Performance evaluation reports
    • Job records (for jobs such as a dog handler or a member of a security squadron or military police unit)

    Submit one or more of these forms:

    • USAF Form 2096 (unit where you were assigned at the time of the training action)
    • USAF Form 5 (aircraft flight duties)
    • USAF Form 781 (aircraft maintenance duties)

    To learn more, download our:

    Air Force specialty codes and units for affected C-123 aircraft (PDF)

    C-123 Aircraft Agent Orange Exposure claims fact sheet (PDF)

    Submit your dependency records. These may include your marriage certificate and children’s birth certificates.

    Request your military service records

    More questions about getting benefits

    If we denied your claim because we determined that your disability wasn’t caused—or made worse—by your active-duty service, you can file a new claim based on the change in the law.

    In certain cases, if we approve your claim, we’ll pay you back to the date when you submitted your original claim. We refer to this as retroactive payment.

    File a claim for disability compensation

    To learn more about this change in the law, and how it may affect you, download our:

    You can get help from us in any of these ways:

    If you’re submitting a claim related to C-123 aircraft, you can also:

    You can:

    Note: Please be ready to give us your name, email address, telephone number, and VA file number or Social Security number.

    This is a free health exam for Veterans who meet any of the above service requirements for presumption of contact. Even if you don’t have a known illness, the exam could alert you to illnesses that may be related to contact with herbicides. By being part of this registry, you’re also helping your fellow Veterans by giving us information so we can better understand and serve those affected by Agent Orange–related illnesses.

    This exam isn’t a VA claim exam (also known as a compensation and pension, or C&P, exam). And you don’t need to have this exam to get other VA benefits. To get disability benefits, you’ll need to file a claim.

    To schedule your exam:

    Contact your local VA environmental health coordinator

    To find out what to expect at your exam:

    Learn more about the Agent Orange Registry health exam

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