Agent Orange

Agent Orange exposure

Agent Orange is a mix of herbicides that was used as a weapon by the United States to kill enemy crops in Vietnam and Korea during the 1960s and 70s.

After using Agent Orange for many years, it was discovered that the herbicide mixture that makes up Agent Orange had been contaminated during the manufacturing process with an extremely toxic dioxin (TCDD) that is associated with many serious health problems in people exposed to the herbicides.

During the Vietnam War, more than 20 million gallons of Agent Orange were used by US troops in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, resulting in excessive amounts of the toxic dioxin in fields, forests, and military bases.

In Korea, Korean troops used Agent Orange manufactured by the US along the Korean DMZ, exposing tens of thousands of US service members.

There is a huge amount of controversy over the use of Agent Orange. We are not going to address those controversies here since it doesn’t matter who knew what when, who was to blame, and who was innocently victimized. The excessive use of the herbicides was and is a tragedy. What matters most to us is that tens of thousands of service members were exposed, now suffer from serious health problems, and deserve to receive their proper compensation.

Over the years, studies have shown correlations between exposure to Agent Orange and the development of many serious health conditions in veterans. As a result of these studies, the VA has added those conditions most closely tied with exposure to their VA Presumptive List, automatically making those conditions service-connected and thus eligible for VA Disability.

For a veteran’s condition to qualify on the VA Presumptive List as caused by Agent Orange, the veteran must have served in Vietnam, in the waters offshore of Vietnam on specific ships, or on specific military bases in Thailand, between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975; in or near the Korean DMZ between September 1, 1967 and August 31, 1971; or on contaminated C-123 aircraft between 1969 and 1986 (see the VA’s list of Air Force Speciality Codes and Units for specifics on C-123 qualifications). Veterans who can show proof that they served where the herbicides were tested or stored in other locations may also qualify.

Agent Orange was used in other areas besides Korea and Vietnam, but the largest amount of exposure to US troops occurred in these locations. Because of this, the VA currently only grants compensation for conditions caused by Agent Orange exposure to vets who served in these locations (or on the C-123s) unless the veteran can show proof that they served in other areas where the herbicides were tested, stored, or disposed.

All the conditions caused by Agent Orange that qualify for VA Disability can be found on our VA Presumptive List page.

The VASRD does not give a VASRD Code for exposure to Agent Orange. Instead, each condition caused by exposure can be given its own rating as long as they each cause separate and distinct symptoms. Remember, a single symptom can only be rated once (see the Pyramiding Principle), so if two conditions both cause high blood pressure, the high blood pressure can only be used to rate one of the conditions.

Finally, when submitting a VA Disability Claim for Agent Orange conditions, make sure to list each condition separately and include the proof (deployment orders, etc.) that you were stationed in the required areas within the required date range or that you were definitely exposed to Agent Orange elsewhere.

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Agent Orange FAQs

What is Agent Orange?

Agent Orange is a mix of herbicides that was used as a weapon by the US to kill enemy crops in Vietnam and Korea during the 1960s and 70s.

Was I exposed to Agent Orange?

Since Agent Orange was widely used, it can be difficult to know if you were exposed. However, if you served in certain areas or circumstances, the VA will presume that you were exposed. This includes Vietnam, certain bases in Thailand, and certain ships that served off the coast of Vietnam, between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975; the Korean DMZ in herbicide areas between September 1, 1967 and August 31, 1971; and contaminated C-123s.

I think my condition was caused by Agent Orange exposure. Do I qualify for benefits?

If your condition is listed and you meet the service requirements on the Presumptive List, then yes, you qualify for benefits.

What benefits will I receive for my exposure?

If your condition is on the Presumptive List, then it will be presumed service-connected and you will receive full medical coverage for the condition and a monthly payment based on the condition's rating.

How do I apply for disability caused by Agent Orange exposure?

You can submit a VA Disability Claim for your conditions along with evidence that you meet the service requirements for presumed exposure.

I qualify for Agent Orange exposure. How much money will I receive monthly?

The exact amount you will receive monthly depends on what rating your conditions are given, whether you have dependents, and whether you qualify for additional Special Monthly Compensation. See our VA Rating Chart and Special Monthly Compensation page for details on the current rates.

What do I do if I qualify but my claim was denied?

You can appeal to have your claim reconsidered. Make sure that the VA has sufficient evidence to refute their reason for denial.

I am rated 100%. Will I still have to go in for VA exams?

Yes, the VA will continue to require periodic exams to track the progress of your conditions unless they declare your conditions Permanent and Total (P&T).

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