Getting Veterans (VA) Disability for Agent Orange Diseases
If you were exposed to Agent Orange during your U.S. military service, you might be eligible for VA service-connected disability compensation for medical conditions associated with Agent Orange.
If you developed cancer or another health condition after being exposed to Agent Orange, get an experienced veterans’ advocate on your team to help you get the benefits you deserve. Contact the attorneys at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD for a free consultation. Call today: 401-331-6300.
What is Agent Orange?
Agent Orange is a powerful herbicide. The U.S. military used it to defoliate swaths of land in Thailand, Vietnam, and Korea. It was also tested, used, and stored at various other locations. Unfortunately, research later showed the herbicide was highly toxic to anyone who came in proximity to it.
The effects of Agent Orange can take years to appear. Even if many decades passed between your exposure in military service and medical diagnosis of an associated condition, it’s not too late to file a claim. If you can prove you were exposed to Agent Orange during service and have an associated medical condition, the VA must grant service connection.
What Are Presumptive Conditions and Benefits?
As a result of the Agent Orange Act of 1991, the VA recognizes certain conditions as being related to Agent Orange exposure. These conditions, or diseases, are classified as presumptive. Essentially, this means that if you are diagnosed with one of these conditions and can indicate that you were exposed to Agent Orange during your service, VA will presume that your condition is service-connected.
While Agent Orange was widely used during the Vietnam War era, VA requires veterans to have served in specific locations at specific time periods to be eligible for presumptive service connection. Below are the criteria the veteran’s service must meet to qualify for presumptive benefits:
- Boots-on-the-ground in Vietnam, veterans with service aboard a ship that operated in the inland waterways of Vietnam (i.e., Brown Water veterans), or veterans with service aboard a ship in Vietnam’s territorial seas (i.e., Blue Water Navy veterans) between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975
- On or near the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) between September 1, 1967 and August 31, 1971
- Active duty and reservist personnel who had regular contact with C-123 aircraft between 1969 and 1986
If the veteran is eligible for presumptive service connection, the process for receiving VA disability compensation benefits and healthcare should be considerably easier, as the burden is not on the veteran to prove Agent Orange caused their condition.
What Agent Orange-related conditions qualify for disability benefits?
Medical researchers have linked Agent Orange to a host of health conditions. VA adds new conditions to the list periodically. No matter your diagnosis, contact us for a free consultation. Currently, the list of health conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure includes the following:
- AL amyloidosis
- Bladder Cancer
- Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Ischemic Heart Disease
- Diabetes Mellitus, Type II
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Parkinson’s-like Symptoms
- Respiratory Cancer (e.g., bronchus cancer, larynx cancer, lung cancer, trachea cancer)
- Prostate Cancer
- Soft Tissue Sarcoma
- Multiple Myeloma
The 2021 NDAA, or National Defense Authorization Act, passed by Congress added bladder cancer, Parkinson’s-like Symptoms, and Hypothyroidism to the list of presumptive conditions caused by Agent Orange exposure. Essentially, Congress bypassed VA to add these conditions to the presumptive conditions list and, by statute, determined that there is a link between Agent Orange exposure and bladder cancer, Parkinson’s-like symptoms, and hypothyroidism. With this, Congress has demonstrated that it has the power to use the NDAA to add conditions to the presumptive list. This could potentially lead to more conditions being added to the list in the future.
Our team at CCK can gather the medical evidence you need and connect it to your military service and present it to VA. Should VA challenge or deny your claim, our attorneys have experience navigating the appeal process. Contact us today for a free consultation.
How do I get disability for Agent Orange exposure?
The most important part of our job as your VA disability attorneys is establishing that exposure to Agent Orange caused your medical condition. To build a compelling case that Agent Orange caused your medical condition, we will prove the following:
You were exposed to Agent Orange during your service in the U.S. military.
We can do this in a few ways. If your military records show you served in Vietnam or the Korean DMZ during the Vietnam era, the VA will grant service connection on a presumptive basis. This means that the VA assumes that you were exposed to Agent Orange while serving in these areas during the Vietnam War.
However, even if the VA does not presume a connection to service, we can help you recover benefits if you served somewhere else. The right combination of evidence, medical and service records, lay testimony, and legal argument could win your case.
You later received a medical diagnosis of cancer or another qualifying illness.
You must have a diagnosed medical condition to be eligible for VA disability benefits. If doctors diagnosed you with any of the medical conditions on the list above, we will gather the documentation from your doctor or medical professional that we need to submit to the VA.
Your illness resulted from your exposure to Agent Orange.
The last, and perhaps most important step in the process is connecting your diagnosis to Agent Orange. If your health condition is not on the list or you did not serve in Vietnam, the Korean DMZ, or Thailand, we will have to do some research to establish a link, but our attorneys are qualified to do so.
We can interview medical doctors and experts, examine scientific studies, and perform other steps to build the strongest case that Agent Orange caused your condition.
Agent Orange Exposure Beyond the Veteran
Agent Orange exposure does not end with the veteran, but rather Agent Orange exposure may also contribute to birth defects in veterans’ children. Studies have indicates that Agent Orange exposure has led to increased rates of stillbirths and birth defects in the children of veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange.
Birth defects and conditions such as spina bifida, cleft lip, congenital heart disease, hip dysplasia, Hallerman-Streiff syndrome, neural tube defects, Poland syndrome, and others may also be caused by Agent Orange exposure in children. Children who were exposed may be eligible for benefits. In order to qualify, the children must be:
- The biological child of a woman Vietnam Veteran who served between February 28, 1961 and May 7,1945
- Conceived after the date on which the Veteran first entered the Republic of Vietnam
How much will my monthly VA disability benefit be?
Depending on the severity of your disability, you can receive as much as $3,146.42 per month as a single person. If you have dependents, such as a spouse, children, or dependent parents, you can earn even more money on their behalf.
The VA uses a disability rating system to assign benefits. Based on the severity of your condition, it assigns you a rating of 0 to 100 percent. The higher your disability rating, the more money you receive in benefits each month.
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
If your diagnosis is active cancer, the VA assigns an automatic disability rating of 100 percent. This qualifies you for the max benefit of $3,332.06 per month (plus anything you receive on behalf of dependents). Your 100 percent rating continues until six months after successful completion of a treatment program. At that time, the VA requires you undergo another evaluation to determine the current status of your diagnosis. It then re-rates you based on the result.
Additional Benefits and Care for Veterans Who Were Exposed to Agent Orange
Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange may also be eligible to receive an Agent Orange Registry Health Exam. This exam is free of charge. The purpose is to “alert Veterans to possible long-term health problems that may be related to Agent Orange exposure during their military service.”
Importantly, the exam is not a Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam. The exam is also not required to receive VA benefits. The exam is based on the veteran’s recollection of service, not their military service records.
VA notes that these exams can “help [VA] understand and respond to these health problems more effectively.” Through the program, veterans may receive free lab tests and referrals to medical specialists for their conditions related to Agent Orange exposure.
Secondary Conditions Related to Agent Orange Exposure
It is important to note that if further disease or disability results from one of the presumptive conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure, you can file a claim for secondary service connection. In order for VA to grant secondary service connection, veterans must demonstrate the following:
- A diagnosis for the secondary disability; and
- Medical evidence showing the relationship between the service-connected disability and the secondary disability.
Examples of common secondary conditions related to Agent Orange exposure, including peripheral neuropathy as secondary to diabetes mellitus type II and depression as secondary to cancer.
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 qualifying 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. Call today for a free consultation: 401-331-6300.