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Ionizing radiation exposure

If you have a health condition caused by contact with radiation during your service, you may be eligible for VA disability compensation. Compensation provides tax-free monthly payments. Keep reading to find out if you may be eligible.

We’ve added these 3 new response efforts to the list of presumptive locations:

  • Cleanup of Enewetak Atoll, from January 1, 1977, through December 31, 1980
  • Cleanup of the Air Force B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons off the coast of Palomares, Spain, from January 17, 1966, through March 31, 1967
  • Response to the fire onboard an Air Force B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons near Thule Air Force Base in Greenland from January 21, 1968, to September 25, 1968

If you took part in any of these efforts, we’ll automatically assume (or “presume”) that you had exposure to radiation.

Learn more about what the PACT Act means for your VA benefits

Am I eligible for VA disability compensation?

You may be eligible for disability compensation if you didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge and you meet these requirements.

Both of these must be true:

  • You have an illness that’s on our list of illnesses believed to be caused by radiation or that doctors say may be caused by radiation, and
  • Your illness started within a certain period of time (as shown along with the list of illnesses)

Note: You can find a list of radiation-related illnesses on the National Archives’ Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR) website. Review radiation-related illnesses on the eCFR website

And you must have had contact with ionizing radiation in one of these ways while serving in the military:

  • You were part of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, or
  • You served in the postwar occupation of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, or
  • You were a prisoner of war (POW) in Japan, or
  • You did tasks like those of a Department of Energy (DOE) employee that make them a member of the Special Exposure Cohort (For more details, check 42 U.S.C. 7384L(14))

You may also qualify for disability benefits if you served in at least one of these locations and capacities:

  • You were part of underground nuclear weapons testing at Amchitka Island, Alaska, or
  • You were assigned to a gaseous diffusion plant at Paducah, Kentucky, or
  • You were assigned to a gaseous diffusion plant at Portsmouth, Ohio, or
  • You were assigned to a gaseous diffusion plant at Area K-25 at Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Note: If you get a disability rating, you may also be eligible for VA health care and other benefits.

How do I file a claim for compensation?

If you havent filed a claim yet for the presumptive condition

You can file a new claim online now. You can also file by mail, in person, or with the help of a trained professional.

File for disability compensation online now

Learn about other ways to file a disability compensation claim

If we denied your disability claim in the past and we now consider your condition presumptive

You can file a Supplemental Claim. We’ll review your case again.

Find out how to file a Supplemental Claim

What evidence will I need to submit with my claim?

You’ll need to submit these documents:

  • Medical records showing that you’ve been diagnosed with one of the illnesses on our list of those believed to be caused by radiation—or that your doctor states may be caused by radiation exposure, and
  • Service records showing that you were part of one of the radiation risk activities listed on this page