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Veterans Law

Agent Orange VA Claim Denials

December 23, 2019

If your VA claim related to Agent Orange exposure has been denied, do not give up. You may be entitled to VA benefits for your disabilities. Our firm has over 20 years of experience helping clients fight VA for the benefits they deserve. We are uniquely positioned and experienced to help veterans exposed to Agent Orange. Contact our office for a free consultation today at 844-567-1185.

The Agent Orange Presumption

helicopter spraying agent orange during Vietnam warVA has a presumption of exposure and a presumption of service connection for Vietnam Veterans. The first cedes that you were exposed to Agent Orange, and the latter presumes that your medical condition was caused by Agent Orange.

If your military service does not qualify you under one of VA’s presumptions, you may still qualify for benefits. Contact our office for a free consultation to see if we can help you at 844-567-1185.

The Presumption of Exposure

Following the Vietnam War, many Vietnam veterans experienced rare and severe health conditions they thought to be the result of their exposure to Agent Orange during their service. VA and Congress had difficulty determining who was exposed to herbicides during their service in Vietnam, as well as where, for how long, and how much they were exposed. Since they could not determine who was exposed, Congress created a presumption of exposure to herbicide agents in the Republic of Vietnam. This presumption gave all Vietnam veterans the benefit of the doubt that they were exposed to herbicides. This is what we call the presumption of exposure.

The regulation itself states that veterans “who, during active military, naval, or air service, served in the Republic of Vietnam during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975” were exposed to herbicide agents. All veterans who served in-country Vietnam (“boots-on-the-ground”) are covered under this regulation, as well as those veterans who served on ships that navigated the inland waterways of Vietnam (Brown Water). Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans are afforded a similar presumption, which we get to later in this post.

The Presumption of Service Connection

The next step is what we call the presumption of service connection. VA’s regulation lists several conditions that the Institute of Medicine has determined to be associated with herbicide exposure. If VA determines that a veteran was exposed to herbicides (either through the presumption of exposure or on a facts-found basis), it will then presume that the veteran’s herbicide exposure caused them to develop one of the following conditions:

  • AL amyloidosis
  • Chronic B-cell Leukemias
  • Chloracne
  • Diabetes Mellitus Type II
  • Hodgkin’s Disease and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Ischemic Heart Disease
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Early-onset peripheral neuropathy
  • Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Respiratory Cancer (e.g. bronchus cancer, larynx cancer, lung cancer, trachea cancer)
  • Soft Tissue Sarcomas

In short, if a veteran is exposed to herbicides, whether on a presumptive or facts-found basis, VA will extend them the presumption of service connection for these conditions.

If you have been diagnosed with a condition not listed on VA’s presumptive list but believe your condition was caused by Agent Orange exposure, you may still qualify for VA disability benefits.

We're Here to Help with Agent Orange Appeals. Contact Us

Agent Orange in Thailand

Veterans who served in Thailand during the Vietnam War are not included in VA’s presumption of exposure. However, records show that Agent Orange and other herbicides were used on certain Royal Thai Air Force Bases in Thailand during the Vietnam War.

Service on the Perimeter

VA recognizes that herbicides were used along the perimeter of Air Force bases in Thailand. However, VA contends that only those who worked on or near the perimeter may have been exposed to herbicides. According to VA’s policy, if a veteran’s Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was a security guard or patrol dog handler, VA will concede that you were on the perimeter of the base and exposed to herbicides. However, VA also says that it will concede exposure if they can show that they were on or near the perimeter through credible evidence. Credible evidence can take the form of official records or lay evidence.

Veterans should keep in mind that while VA requires a veteran to show that they were on or near the perimeter of the base, near is never defined. In addition to this, VA does not consistently apply this policy to veteran’s claims for disability benefits as due to exposure to Agent Orange in Thailand, often resulting in determinations being made on a case-by-case basis.

Drift Zones

“Drift zones” refer to 500-meter buffer zones around where herbicides were being sprayed, as discussed in a Department of the Army Field Manual titled “Tactical Employment of Herbicides.” Drift zones can be interpreted to fall in the category of “near the perimeter” for purposes of showing herbicide exposure on Thailand bases.

VA typically denies the claims of veterans who did not have an MOS that would put them on the perimeter of the base in Thailand, but this largely discounts veterans who were in the drift zone. Credible evidence showing that a veteran was in a drift zone could count as evidence that they were “near the perimeter” of the base.

This is especially important because the distance between the base perimeter and other base activities and facilities, such as living quarters and offices, were well within 500-meters from the perimeter of these Thailand bases.

Blue Water Navy Veterans

A similar presumption of herbicide exposure as those who served with “boots on the ground” in Vietnam now applies to Blue Water Navy Veterans. If you are a Blue Water Navy veteran who suffers from one of the presumptive conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure, you are now eligible for VA disability compensation benefits.

If you have been diagnosed with a condition not listed on VA’s presumptive list but believe your condition was caused by Agent Orange exposure, you may still qualify for VA disability benefits. Contact our office for a free consultation at 844-567-1185.

In order to be eligible for the presumption of Agent Orange exposure, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You served offshore within twelve nautical miles from the line of demarcation of Vietnam between 1962 and 1975; and
  • You are currently diagnosed with one of the medical conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure acknowledged by VA

If you meet the following criteria, you may want to consider filing a claim for service-connected compensation for your medical condition based on Agent Orange exposure.

How Much VA Compensation Can I Receive?

The amount of VA compensation a veteran receives is based upon the severity of their service-connected disabilities. VA rates veterans on a scale of 0% to 100%, with additional compensation for some veterans’ dependents.

As of December 1st, 2021 the VA disability rate benefit amounts are as follows:

  • 0 percent disability rating: $0.00 per month
  • 10 percent disability rating: $152.64 per month
  • 20 percent disability rating: $301.74 per month
  • 30 percent disability rating: $467.39 per month
  • 40 percent disability rating: $673.28 per month
  • 50 percent disability rating: $958.44 per month
  • 60 percent disability rating: $1,214.03 per month
  • 70 percent disability rating: $1,529.95 per month
  • 80 percent disability rating: $1,778.43 per month
  • 90 percent disability rating: $1,998.52 per month
  • 100 percent disability rating: $3,332.06 per month

Veterans who receive a disability rating of less than 100% but are unable to work due to service-connected conditions may qualify for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability benefits, which compensates veterans at the 100% rate.

Call Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD today to start the process.

The VA frequently gets backlogged with claims and appeals. As a result, the process can take some time. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can start to receive benefits. Our attorneys are ready to start building your case.

If you think you were exposed to Agent Orange during your military service and now have a medical condition or diagnosis you believe to be caused by exposure, do not miss out on the benefits you deserve. The veterans advocates at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD will fight your case aggressively, as we have for over 20 years. Call today for a free consultation: 844-567-1185.