Soldiers on an M113 armored personnel carrier spray Agent Orange on a field in South Vietnam. Texas Tech University

VA begins Agent Orange payments

The Department of Veterans Affairs has begun distributing disability benefits to Vietnam veterans who qualify for compensation under recently liberalized rules for Agent Orange exposure. Up to 200,000 Vietnam Veterans are potentially eligible to receive VA disability compensation for medical conditions recently associated with Agent Orange. The expansion of coverage involves B-cell (or hairy-cell) leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease.

The American Legion – which more than 25 years ago sponsored an independent study with Columbia University on the effects of exposure to Agent Orange on Vietnam War veterans – applauded VA Secretary Eric Shinseki for the change in the rules. Shinseki said VA has launched a variety of initiatives – both technological and involving better business practices – to tackle an anticipated upsurge in Agent Orange-related claims.

Providing initial payments – or increases to existing payments – to the 200,000 veterans who now qualify for disability compensation for these three conditions is expected to take several months, but VA officials encourage all Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and suffer from one of the three diseases to make sure their applications have been submitted.

VA has offered veterans exposed to Agent Orange special access to health care since 1978, and priority medical care since 1981. VA has been providing disability compensation to veterans with medical problems related to Agent Orange since 1985.

In practical terms, veterans who served in Vietnam during the war and who have a “presumed” illness do not have to prove an association between their illnesses and their military service. This “presumption” simplifies and speeds up the application process for benefits.

The three new illnesses – B-cell (or hairy-cell) leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease – are added to the list of presumed illnesses previously recognized by VA.

Other recognized illnesses under VA’s “presumption” rule for Agent Orange are:

  • Acute and Subacute Transient Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Chloracne
  • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
  • Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2)
  • Hodgkin’s Disease
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Respiratory Cancers
  • Soft Tissue Sarcoma (other than Osteosarcoma, Chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or Mesothelioma)
  • AL Amyloidosis

The Legion also has lobbied for similar relaxed restrictions on presumption for “Blue Water” Navy veterans who served during Vietnam. The American Legion has a resolution stating that the presumption of exposure should apply to Navy veterans who served on ships located in the territorial waters of Vietnam.

Veterans interested in applying for disability compensation under one of the three new Agent Orange presumptives should click here or call (800) 827-1000.



  1. what about all the poor vets that died from agent orange disaeses that never knew what caused their deaths or the ones like my father joe baylor died trying to make it to court to proof it was agent orange i have all medical papers everything on my dad and i believe my cancer and other illnesses are related from it also i was concieved a month after he came home in november of 1968.
  2. My husband died in 1988. I have been calling,sending medical records and reopening my claim since 1992 and as late as Nov. 2012. I was told I would here from the St. Pete office in 21 days, I do agree hearing from that office in like pulling teeth. Now that Leukemia is an asumptive association, WHAT NOW?
  3. sorry for your loss, that what the va said when i lost my foot, then my leg abk , the loss of feeling in my lower limbs and now for the remaing leg that they are trying to save by extensive surgeries , i have been trying to get them off that 10 percent kick for more than ten years . I had a heart attack one year ago lack of blood flow or over worked aretries(found by outside doctors) now the VA doctors say i have dibetetis , looks like i will pushing flowers before i get any thing else.
  4. I applied in Feb 2002 for ischemic heart disease and was told it was not service connected. I reopened this in Novemebr 2009. Someone changed my Date of Claim to May 2010. ebenefits web showed my claim completed on Nov 1, 2009. Still nothing. What a joke. Try to get someone within the St Pete Regional Office and good luck! Showwing up with the supporting documentation did nothing.
  5. I applied for agent orange ischemic heart, which was diagnosed by DC VA hospital in 2005, I applied in 2007, was denied 2009, I reapplied in 2009, this April Roanoke deferred my claim until final regs are approved. Roanoke in Aug. 23, 2010 sent me a VCAA letter asking for medical and supporting evidence for my Ischemic heart disease. VARO also scheduled a C&P examin with the DC VA hospital Aug. 2010. The 27th of Aug. 2010 I was examined, and on Aug. 27th, the Dr. faxed in her report, as VCAA letter asked, identifying my heart condition from 2005 to present. I Faxed in my VCAA response statement with a copy of her report on Sept. 9th, 2010 to the same fax number the Dr. used. And in Oct. and Nov. I called Roanoke to verify if they had the Drs. report and my statement, they had the Drs. report but said there is no record of my VCAA response statement on file. Also their VCAA letter said I filed claim in 2009, when I filed July 2007. which was wrong. As yet no payments.
  6. get in touch with your congressman. They have Veterans caseworker who will assist you. Gather all of your documentation and copy it and fax it to the caseworker.This is a NATIONAL VETERANS PROBLEM WITH THE DEPT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.
  7. i am told that the payments for agent orange have started but i think this is bul i put a claim in back in 2006 but was dined than in 2007 an 2008 2010 an had exams each year but was told in 2006 2007 2008 2009 that my hart contion was not on the list for agent orange now in 2010 i have to take more exams they just do not want to pay
  8. Walter, I am a Vietnam vet like you. I had prostate cancer diagnosed 5 years ago. It is one of the listed illnesses that are presumed to be connected to agent orange exposure. Not all illnesses are presumed to be connected to agent orange. As far as I know no one gets money just for exposure. You have to come down with one of the recognized illnesses. I see they are adding 3 new illnesses and one is a heart condition. For that to help you I think you will need that particular heart condition. Frustrating but I hope this helps. Glenn
  9. I was told by the va that they are still waiting on washington to give the ok to start payments. No payments have been sent out yet.
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