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Birth defects linked to Agent Orange

Spina bifida is a spinal cord birth defect. A baby develops spina bifida while still in the womb. In some cases, a parent’s past contact with specific chemicals causes this birth defect. If you served in Vietnam or Thailand, or in or near the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)—and your child has spina bifida or certain other birth defects—your child may be able to get disability benefits. Find out if your child qualifies for benefits.

Is my child eligible for disability benefits from VA?


For spina bifida

Your child may be eligible for disability benefits if they meet the requirements listed below.

One of these must be true. The child’s biological mother or father served in:

  • The Republic of Vietnam or in Thailand for any length of time between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, or
  • A unit in or near the DMZ for any length of time between September 1, 1967, and August 31, 1971

And both of these must be true. The child was:

  • Diagnosed with a form of spina bifida other than spina bifida occulta, and
  • Conceived after the parent first entered the Republic of Vietnam, Thailand, or the DMZ during the qualifying time periods listed above

Note: Your character of discharge and length of service don’t affect your child’s eligibility for disability benefits relating to spina bifida.


For other birth defects

Your child may be eligible for disability benefits if they have a covered birth defect that caused a permanent physical or mental disability (a disability that doesn’t go away) and they meet both of the requirements listed below.

Both of these must be true:

  • The child’s biological mother served in Vietnam any time from January 9, 1962, through May 7, 1975, and
  • The child was conceived after the mother first entered the Republic of Vietnam during the time period listed above

See the list of covered birth defects


Who’s covered?

  • Qualified dependents
  • Qualified survivors

What kind of benefits can my child get?

  • Health care
  • Compensation (payments)
  • Job training (called Veteran Readiness and Employment, or VR&E)

How do I get these benefits for my child?

You’ll need to file a claim on behalf of your child and submit this evidence:

  • A document showing the biological relationship between the child and the Veteran parent, and
  • Service records that prove the Veteran served in Vietnam or Thailand, or in or near the DMZ during the qualifying dates listed above, and
  • The child’s birth certificate, and
  • Medical records with the diagnosis of spina bifida or another covered birth defect

You can file a claim in one of these ways:

By mail

File your spina bifida claim by mail using an Application for Benefits for Certain Children with Disabilities Born of Vietnam and Certain Korea Service Veterans (VA Form 21-0304).
Download VA Form 21-0304 (PDF)

Print the form, fill it out, and send it to this address:

Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Janesville, WI 53547-4444

In person

Bring your application to a VA regional office near you.
Find a VA regional office near you

With the help of a trained professional

You can work with a trained professional called an accredited representative to get help filing a claim for disability compensation.
Get help filing your claim

If you have a power of attorney and need to update their information, please call Veterans Benefits Assistance at 800-827-1000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET.

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