Article was originally published March 15, 2023
During the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971, the U.S. military used Agent Orange — a chemical herbicide mixture — to defoliate trees and shrubs and kill food crops that were providing cover and food to opposition forces.
Because Agent Orange was used so heavily during this time and because it has caused so many serious health problems for Veterans, the government presumes that the following illnesses are service-connected for Vietnam Veterans exposed to Agent Orange:
- AL Amyloidosis
- Bladder Cancer
- Chronic B-Cell Leukemia
- Diabetes Mellitus Type II
- Hodgkin’s Disease
- Hypertension — recently added by Honoring Our PACT Act of August 2022
- Ischemic Heart Disease (including Coronary Artery Disease, stable and unstable angina, myocardial infarction, and sudden cardiac death)
- Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS)
- Multiple Myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Parkinson’s Disease or Parkinsonism
- Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-Onset
- Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
- Prostate Cancer
- Respiratory Cancers, including Lung Cancer
- Soft Tissue Sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, and mesothelioma)
Who Is Eligible for Agent Orange Disability Benefits?
If you served on Active Duty at these locations during the time when Agent Orange was used, it is presumed that you had exposure to it.
Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act
The Blue Water Navy (BWN) Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 (PL 116-23) extended the presumption of herbicide exposure, such as Agent Orange, to Veterans who served in the offshore waters of the Republic of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, Veterans who served as far as 12 nautical miles from the shore of Vietnam, or who had service in the Korean Demilitarized Zone, are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides, such as Agent Orange.
Agent Orange Registry
Veterans who state that they meet the criteria of Public Law 116-23 are eligible for the Agent Orange Registry health exam, which is a free VA service that alerts Veterans to possible long-term health problems that may be related to Agent Orange exposure during military service.
Note: Being listed in the Agent Orange Registry does not verify eligibility for benefits.
The PACT Act
The PACT Act, signed into legislation in 2022, added two new Agent Orange presumptive conditions for Vietnam Veterans, as well as five new locations for presumptive exposure.
There is no deadline to apply for PACT Act benefits, but if you file your PACT Act claim — or quickly submit your intent to file — by August 14, 2023*, you may receive benefits backdated to August 10, 2022.
*Deadline extended from August 9, 2023
Survivor and Accrued Benefits
Accrued Benefits: Surviving spouses may be eligible for accrued benefits if the Veteran filed a claim with the VA while still alive but passed away during the adjudication process.
DIC: Surviving spouses may be awarded DIC benefits if the Veteran’s cause of death was determined to be from a condition related to Agent Orange Exposure.
How Do I Get VA Disability for Agent Orange Exposure?
If you have a health condition caused by exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange during your service, you may be eligible for VA disability compensation.
If you have not filed a claim yet for a presumptive condition, you may file a new claim online now. You can also file by mail, in person, or with the help of a trained professional. If you have previously filed a claim and were denied, you may file a supplemental claim to have VA review your case.
- AAFMAA — Email an AAFMAA Member Benefits representative at [email protected]
- VA — File a claim if you think you’re eligible for disability compensation
- Other VSO
2. Present Diagnosis. If your condition isn’t on the list of presumptive conditions, 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.
- Scientific or medical evidence stating that the condition you have is caused by Agent Orange. Scientific proof may include an article from a medical journal or a published research study.
3. Provide Medical Records and Vietnam Service Proof. You’ll need to submit a medical record that shows you have an Agent Orange-related health condition and military records to show how you were exposed to Agent Orange during your service. These may include your DD214 or other separation documents.
If the claim is successful, the Veteran may receive a monthly disability compensation payment and free VA healthcare related to their service-connected disability. The amount of compensation is determined by the diagnosed condition and level of disability.
If you have any questions about this process, email an AAFMAA Member Benefits representative at [email protected] or call 703-707-1182.
Use of DoD imagery does not constitute or imply DoD endorsement. Photo by U.S. Army. Army Maj. Zach Rolf poses for a photo with his father and Vietnam War veteran, Lynn Rolf, after the Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Ceremony at Marshall Army Airfield on Fort Riley, Kan., Nov. 6, 2015.