Agent Orange Benefits for Surviving Spouses and Dependents
The recently passed Honoring Our PACT Act has expanded certain presumptions for veterans and their dependents who may have been exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during their military service, even if exposed outside of Vietnam.
For veterans who have since passed away, their death could now be service connected to Agent Orange exposure. This makes their surviving spouse or dependents eligible for retroactive DIC benefits dating back to the original effective date of the Veteran’s claim, potentially qualifying dependents for substantial back pay.
Under the Honoring Our PACT Act, survivors and dependents can file a claim for DIC benefit effective immediately. The benefits can apply retroactively for DIC claimants.
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Honoring Our PACT Act: Presumptive Service Connection for Herbicide Exposure
In 2022, the Honoring Our PACT Act created a presumption of service connection for service members with active military naval, air or space service who served in the following locations/timeframes:
- Vietnam –Veterans are eligible for presumptive service-connection if they served between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975.
- Korean Demilitarized Zone – Veterans who served on or near the Korean Demilitarized Zone between September 1, 1967 and August 31, 1971, should also be presumed to have been exposed to herbicide agents.
- Thailand – VA has recognized that herbicide agents were used in Thailand and presumes herbicide exposure for veterans with active military naval, air, or space service who served in Thailand, at any US or Thai base, between January 9, 1962 and June 30, 1976.
- Laos – Herbicide exposure, such as Agent Orange exposure, also occurred in Laos. The PACT Act enables veterans who served between December 1, 1965 and September 30, 1969 are also eligible for the presumption of herbicide exposure.
- Cambodia – The PACT Act extends the presumption of herbicide exposure to those who served in Cambodia, specifically at Mimot or Krek, or Kampong Cham Province between April 16, 1969 and April 30, 1969.
- Guam/American Samoa – Veterans who served in Guam or American Samoa, or in the territorial waters thereof, between April 16, 1969 and April 30, 1969 are eligible for this presumption.
- Johnson Atoll – Those who served on an island called Johnston Atoll, or a ship also called Johnston Atoll, between January 1, 1972 and September 30, 1977 are also included in the presumptions created by the PACT Act.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, often referred to as DIC, is a monthly benefit awarded to a surviving spouse or dependent child or parent of a service member who has died in action or died from a service-connected condition.
The surviving spouse or dependent children or parents of a veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange and developed a disease that contributed to their death may be eligible for this compensation.
Importantly, same-sex spouses of military veterans are afforded the same beneficiary rights as those of heterosexual military veterans. Legally married military couples of any orientation can apply to collect federal benefits.
This form of compensation is entirely separate from the disability benefits the veteran may have been receiving while they were alive. VA disability benefits that a veteran may have been receiving for their service-connected disabilities will be discontinued at the time of their passing.
Health Care Benefits
Surviving spouses and the children of veterans who passed away from an Agent Orange-related disability or medical condition may also be eligible for health care benefits under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA).
Legal Assistance for Surviving Spouses or Dependents of Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange
If you are the surviving spouse or dependent of a veteran who passed away from an Agent Orange exposure-linked illness or disability, getting help from an accredited representative can be extremely beneficial.
The experienced claims advocates at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick have experience fighting DIC appeals, and we may be able to assist you. Contact our office today for a free case evaluation.
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I fully recommend Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD to any veteran that needs help getting their benefits. I had dealt with the VA for years with limited success, until Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick took my case and got me back pay for benefits I had been trying to get for years. The staff is very professional and has the veterans best interest in mind. I would like to thank all of you that had a hand in handling my case.
I had been fighting the VA bureaucracy for over a decade for compensation due to PTSD. All I got were denial letters. Out of desperation I contacted CCK. They took my case and with knowledge and determination, I was finally granted compensation. I urge all veterans who are in my boots to contact CCK. They get results.
Great job, fast results, courteous and professional, couldn’t have gotten the results from my case without their help. Would highly recommend to all veterans having difficulty in dealing with the VA.