Respiratory disorders (other than certain respiratory cancers)
• Skin cancer
• Cognitive and neuropsychiatric
• Gastrointestinal tract tumors
• Brain tumors
to do if your condition is listed as not Agent-Orange related.
If you have one of these orphaned conditions you can apply for service
connection secondary to Agent Orange exposure; however, your claim will be denied. What should you do?
would be to apply anyway, and let the VA deny the claim. Then appeal the decision. A timely appeal keeps your claim in the
mill. Also, keep in mind that somewhere down the road some or all of these conditions might be approved. By having a denial
on record, you stand a chance of having it approved retroactively. Additionally, the medical evidence you submitted will always
be in your VA claims file. However, if you wait several years to file a claim, you should keep in mind that physicians don’t
keep their records forever. So get your claim submitted before your records wind up in the trash bin or shredder.
One additional cautionary word: exposure to Agent Orange, in and of itself, is not a disability. That is, you can receive
service connection only for the 11 disabilities listed here.
Getting started with your claim.
So, what do you need to get your
Agent Orange claim approved by the VA? There are three basic requirements and all of them must be met:
• A medical
diagnosis of a disease with the VA recognizes as being associated with Agent Orange. (See list on this page.)
Evidence of service in Vietnam.
• Medical evidence that the disease began within the deadline (if any).
you actually served in Vietnam
To determine if you had service in Vietnam, the rating specialist looks at your DD214 to see if there
is a statement showing dates of in-country service. If nothing is found on your DD214, the next source will be your military
201 Claims File which shows records of duty assignments, etc. A further resort will be your service medical records (SMR’s).
Sick-call entries or hospital reports often list the name of a dispensary or hospital and, sometimes, its location in Vietnam.
Unfortunately, many such entries list the facility, but not its location. If such a record is found indicating the facility
was in Vietnam, however, proof of service in RVN is conceded. The main point is that you must have had your feet on the ground
in Vietnam (fly-overs don’t count). However, a recent court decision has opened the way to those vets who served off
the coast of Vietnam.
You will note that the Vietnam Service Medal is not among those decorations considered conclusive
proof of service in RVN. This is because the medal was awarded to anyone who served in Vietnam, the waters offshore, or the
airspace above. It was also awarded for service in Thailand, Laos, or Cambodia.
Very few claims are granted based
on direct exposure to Agent Orange. On the contrary, the majority of claims granted are based on presumption. Technically
speaking, this means the condition did not happen in military service, nor was it aggravated or caused by service, or manifested
to a compensable degree within the one-year presumptive period after service. Simply put, if you were in Vietnam it is acknowledged,
or presumed, that you were exposed to Agent Orange.
Present specific details of your disability
Once it has been determined that you served in Vietnam,
the VA will send you a Chemical Defoliant development letter, asking about specific details concerning your disability. Answer
the questions to the best of your ability, as this information is necessary to gather evidence and process your claim.
After you have responded to the development letter, the VA will obtain any pertinent medical records, and then schedule
you for a VA examination to determine the severity of your condition(s). At the examination, the physician will review your
claims file and ask you
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