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Are My Dependents Eligible for Disability Due to the Effects of Agent Orange?

Are My Dependents Eligible for Disability Due to the Effects of Agent Orange?

The effects of Agent Orange have been shown to cause a variety of serious health conditions, and have also been associated with certain birth defects. Children of veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War may be eligible for VA compensation and other VA benefits.

Children with Spina Bifida

Spina bifida is a condition in which the spine fails to close properly during pregnancy. The VA presumes that when a Vietnam veteran has a biological child with spina bifida (except spina bifida occulta), the condition is connected to the Veteran’s military service. In this case, the VA does not require evidence proving that the condition is connected to service.

However, there are several qualifications that must be met in order for the child to receive VA compensation, healthcare, and vocational training. The child must be the biological child of a veteran who:

  • served in Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975, or 
  • a veteran who served in the Korean demilitarized zone between September 1, 1967 and August 31, 1971 and was exposed to herbicides. Veterans who served in the Korean demilitarized zone between April 1, 1968 and August 31, 1971 are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides.

The child must have been conceived after the date on which the veteran entered Vietnam or the Korean demilitarized zone.

Children with Other Birth Defects

The VA presumes certain other birth defects are connected to a veteran’s military service, but only if the Veteran is the biological mother of the child with a birth defect. The VA does not explicitly say that these birth defects are due to to Agent Orange exposure, only that they are connected to military service during the Vietnam War.

The mother must have served in Vietnam between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975 in order for the child to be eligible for VA benefits such as compensation, healthcare, and vocational training.

The following list of birth defects are presumed to be connected to service:


Cleft lip and cleft palate

Congenital heart disease

Congenital talipes equinovarus (clubfoot)

Esophageal and intestinal atresia

Hallerman-Streiff syndrome

Hip dysplasia

Hirschprung’s disease (congenital megacolon)

Hydrocephalus due to aqueductal stenosis


Imperforate anus

Neural tube defects

Poland syndrome

Pyloric stenosis

Syndactyly (fused digits)

Tracheoesophageal fistula

Undescended testicle

Williams syndrome

Children with other birth defects may also be eligible if the other requirements are met. 

If the birth defect was caused by a family disorder, birth-related injury, or a fetal or neonatal infirmary, it will not be covered and the child will not be eligible for VA benefits.

In some cases, dependents may be eligible for a Survivors Pension or Disability and Indemnity Compensation if the Veteran died during the Vietnam War or due to a service-connected disability.

Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick has helped thousands of veterans with their appeals before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Call us at 401-331-6300 to discuss your appeal with an experienced veterans law practitioner.

Category: Veterans Law


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