Agent Orange: Compensation for diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure
By STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 14, 2011
VA pays monthly disability compensation to Veterans for injuries or diseases related to active military service. We call these disabilities “service-related” or “service-connected.” A Veteran’s children and survivors may also qualify for benefits.
Learn about your eligibility and VA's benefits.
- Eligibility for Veterans' Disability Compensation
- Apply for Veterans’ Compensation
- Additional Benefits for Veterans
- Children and Survivors' Benefits
- Contact VA about Benefits
Eligibility for Veterans' Disability Compensation
Veterans may be eligible for disability compensation if they have a service-related disability and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
Below are the different eligibility requirements for Veterans who were exposed to herbicides while serving inside or outside of Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
In Vietnam Exposure to Agent Orange
Veterans who served on land in Vietnam, went ashore when a ship docked to the shore of Vietnam, or served on the inland waterways of Vietnam anytime between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 (including brief visits), and who have a disease that VA recognizes as associated with Agent Orange exposure are presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange.
Note: Vietnam Veterans with these specific diseases do not have to prove that their diseases are related to their military service to qualify for disability compensation. This includes:
- "Brown Water Veterans" who served aboard river patrol and swift boats that operated on inland waterways anytime between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975
- "Blue Water Veterans" who went ashore when a ship docked to the shore of Vietnam or served aboard ships that operated on the inland waterways of Vietnam anytime between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975
Vietnam Veterans who believe they have a disease caused by herbicide exposure, but that disease is not on VA’s list of diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure, may be eligible for service-connection on a “direct” basis. These Veterans must show that their diseases are related to their military service to get disability compensation.
Outside Vietnam Exposure to Herbicides
Veterans who did not serve inside Vietnam and were exposed elsewhere to Agent Orange or other herbicides may be eligible for service-connection on a “direct” basis. These Veterans must show that their diseases are related to their military service to get disability compensation.
Additionally, these Veterans must show that they were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service. This includes:
- Blue Water Veterans who served on ships off the shore of Vietnam that did not dock to the shore of Vietnam or operate on the inland waterways of Vietnam
- Veterans who served in the Korea demilitarized zone in 1968 to 1969
- Veterans who served on or near the perimeters of military bases in Thailand during the Vietnam Era
- Veterans who served where herbicides were tested and stored outside of Vietnam
Exception: Blue Water Veterans claiming non-Hodgkin's lymphoma as a disability may be granted service-connection without showing inland waterway service or that they went ashore when their ships docked to the shore of Vietnam. This is because VA also recognizes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma as associated with service in Vietnam or the waters offshore of Vietnam during the Vietnam Era.
Check VA's Guide to Agent Orange Claims to learn more about how to establish eligibility to disability compensation and how much VA pays.
Apply for Veterans’ Compensation
Veterans can apply for disability compensation online.
Claims Process for Disability Compensation
After we receive your application, we’ll send you a letter that explains what evidence we need in order to grant your claim. We will help you get records to support your claim, including records of Vietnam service or exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service. Learn more about the disability claims process.
Additional Benefits for Veterans
Veterans also may be eligible for:
- Health care benefits: A full range of medical benefits
- Agent Orange Registry health examination: A cost-free, comprehensive examination
- Other benefits: Home loans, vocational rehabilitation, education, and more
Children and Survivors' Benefits
Certain Vietnam-era Veterans’ children with spina bifida or covered birth defects may be eligible for compensation, health care, and vocational training. Learn more about benefits for children with birth defects.
Surviving spouses, children and dependent parents of Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and died as the result of diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure may be eligible for a monthly payment called Dependency and Indemnity Compensation. These survivors also may be eligible for education, home loan, and medical care benefits. Find out if you qualify for survivors’ benefits.
Contact VA about Benefits
- Toll-free Helpline: 1-800-749-8387 Press 3
- Health Care and Agent Orange Registry Health Exam: 1-877-222-8387 (Ask to speak to the Environmental Health Coordinator or Patient Care Advocate)
- Compensation and Other Benefits: 1-800-827-1000
- TDD (for hearing impaired): 1-800-829-4833
- Health Care and Agent Orange Registry Health Exam: Go to your nearest VA medical facility.
- Compensation Benefits and Other Benefits: Go to your nearest VA benefits office.