Agent Orange Exposure and VA Disability Benefits
Since the Agent Orange Act of 1991, the Department of Veterans Affairs has recognized that certain cancers and other diseases are caused by exposure to Agent Orange. As a result, the VA provides presumptive service connection for these conditions: if you served in Vietnam anytime between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 or in the Korean demilitarized zone anytime between April 1, 1968 and August 31, 1971, the VA presumes that not only were you exposed to Agent Orange or other similarly harmful herbicides but also that certain conditions that you may have developed were caused by the presumed exposure to Agent Orange.
The important takeaway here is that veterans who meet the above criteria do not need to submit evidence proving their exposure to Agent Orange; instead, the VA presumes that the exposure occurred.
Agent Orange – Presumptive Diseases
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the following diseases are presumptive:
A rare disease caused when an abnormal protein, amyloid, enters tissues or organs
Chronic B-cell Leukemias
A type of cancer which affects white blood cells
Chloracne (or similar acneform disease)
A skin condition that occurs soon after exposure to chemicals and looks like common forms of acne seen in teenagers. Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
Diabetes Mellitus Type 2
A disease characterized by high blood sugar levels resulting from the body’s inability to respond properly to the hormone insulin
A malignant lymphoma (cancer) characterized by progressive enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, and by progressive anemia
Ischemic Heart Disease
A disease characterized by a reduced supply of blood to the heart, that leads to chest pain
A cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell in bone marrow
A group of cancers that affect the lymph glands and other lymphatic tissue
A progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects muscle movement
Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-Onset
A nervous system condition that causes numbness, tingling, and motor weakness. Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of herbicide exposure.
Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
A disorder characterized by liver dysfunction and by thinning and blistering of the skin in sun-exposed areas. Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
Cancer of the prostate; one of the most common cancers among men
Respiratory Cancers (includes lung cancer)
Cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus
Soft Tissue Sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma)
A group of different types of cancers in body tissues such as muscle, fat, blood and lymph vessels, and connective tissues
Other Eligible Veterans
Veterans who served outside of Vietnam and the Korean DMZ during the above periods may also qualify for service connection, though there is no presumption of exposure, meaning that veterans must prove their exposure to Agent Orange. The VA provides the following list:
-Veterans who served on or near the perimeters of military bases in Thailand during the Vietnam Era.
-Veterans who served where herbicides were tested and stored outside of Vietnam.
-Veterans who were crew members on C-123 planes flown after the Vietnam War.
-Veterans associated with Department of Defense (DoD) projects to test, dispose of, or store herbicides in the U.S.
Blue Water Veterans
Veterans who served in the waters offshore Vietnam without spending time in inland waterways or on land, widely known as Blue Water Veterans, are eligible for presumed service connection for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as the VA recognizes this disease as related to these areas of service during the Vietnam War. However, presumptive service connection is not available to these veterans for Agent Orange Exposure.
If you or a loved one served in the military and are now suffering from an illness caused by exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides, please reach out to our office for a free consultation. Our attorneys and staff are happy to answer any questions that you might have about your veterans disability claim. Call us at 800-742-5035 or use the contact form on this site.