VA’s Final Regulations on Agent Orange Exposure Announced

Those veterans who can show they have been exposed to Agent Orange and suffer specific illnesses because of the exposure will benefit from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) new rules. Those veterans will be able to collect disability compensation where they could not prior, and will have better access to the VA’s health care system.

The VA’s new rules add three more illnesses to their list of what they consider presumptive illnesses caused by exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki stated the expansion to the presumptive illness list is supported by both the Agent Orange Act of 1991 requirements as well as the 2008 Update on Agent Orange compiled by the Institute of Medicine. The VA will be adding the following to their list of presumptive illnesses:

  • Parkinson’s Disease;
  • Ischemic heart disease; and
  • All chronic B-cell leukemias (to include Hairy Cell leukemia).

The VA’s new rules eliminate the requirement Vietnam veterans must demonstrate a correlation between their illness and their military service. It stands to reason all disability claims for presumptive illnesses should move through the claims process faster than other claims.

Vietnam veterans who served between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 will be presumed to have had exposure to herbicides. Disability claims from this group of veterans is expected to number 150,000. Additionally, the VA expects approximately 90,000 claims to be re-filed that were previously denied. It is possible the VA will pay claims retroactively, depending on each claim.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.