Herbicides were used by the U.S. military to defoliate military facilities in the U.S. and in other countries as far back as the 1950s. Even if you did not serve in Vietnam, you can still apply for service-connected benefits if you were exposed to an herbicide while in the military which you believe caused your disease or injury. If you have a disease which is on the list of diseases which Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes as being associated with Agent Orange, the VA requires:
- A medical diagnosis of a disease which VA recognizes as being associated with Agent Orange
- Competent evidence of exposure to a chemical contained in one of the herbicides used in Vietnam (2,4-D; 2,4,5-T and its contaminant TCDD, cacodylic acid, or picloram), and Competent medical evidence that the disease began within the deadline for that disease (if any)
- If you have a disease which is not on the list of diseases which VA recognizes as being associated with Agent Orange, VA requires
- Competent medical evidence of a current disability, competent evidence of exposure to an herbicide during military service
- Competent medical evidence of a nexus (causal relationship) between the herbicide exposure and the current disability
Veterans Affairs Medical Care
Even if you decide not to file a claim for VA compensation benefits based on Agent Orange, you can still get a free physical examination at the nearest VA Medical Center. This is called the Agent Orange Registry Exam. This exam consists of four parts: an exposure history, a medical history, laboratory tests and a physical exam of those body systems most commonly affected by toxic chemicals. This exam might detect diseases which can be treated more effectively the earlier they are diagnosed. You may also be entitled to free ongoing medical treatment at a VA medical facility.
Social Security Benefits
The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers both disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits. Veterans can receive both Social Security disability insurance benefits and VA disability compensation. (The supplemental security income benefit (SSI) is offset for VA pension or compensation.) Unlike VA compensation benefits that are measured in degrees of disability, SSA benefits require a total disability that will last at least one year. If you cannot work because of your disability, contact the nearest district office of the Social Security Administration.