During the Vietnam War and similar conflicts, hundreds of thousands of Veterans were exposed to Agent Orange: one of the deadliest tactical herbicides ever employed by the US military. In the years following, many Veterans developed diseases and disabilities, some of which claimed their lives.
The widows and survivors of those Veterans could be entitled to VA benefits. Let’s explore Agent Orange benefits for widows and survivors in more detail.
Agent Orange was a devastating tactical herbicide originally used to clear away hazardous foliage in the jungles of Vietnam. Because of the key toxic compound in Agent Orange, dioxin, the chemical also caused numerous health hazards in Veterans exposed to it.
Specifically, many Veterans developed cancers and other illnesses as a result of their Agent Orange exposure, including:
The Department of Veterans Affairs and the US government denied the connection between Agent Orange and Veterans with these conditions for many decades. Eventually, however, Veterans were provided Agent Orange-related disability benefits.
Even better, Veterans were awarded presumptive service connections if they were plausibly exposed to Agent Orange and developed conditions knowingly linked to the herbicide. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Veterans have now received disability compensation to help them pay for lost income, medical bills, and much more.
Not every Veteran exposed to Agent Orange survived their symptoms. Indeed, many Veterans perished because of Agent Orange exposure and related health convocations. For example, a Veteran may have developed bladder cancer and died because they were exposed to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War.
Those Veterans leave behind spouses, children, and other surviving dependents. The VA offers various survivors’ benefits for individuals related to Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and died from related health complications.
Those survivors of deceased Veterans can and should take advantage of these benefits to secure better financial futures for themselves and their relatives.
According to the VA, a survivor includes:
For a parent or child to depend on a Veteran, they rely on or have relied on the Veteran in question for all or most of their income needs. For instance, if a Veteran took care of their sick or disabled father while in the service, that father would qualify as a surviving dependent of the Veteran.
These survivors can all apply for certain Agent Orange-related benefits and compensation.
Eligible survivors may qualify for compensation Agent Orange benefits. These include surviving spouses, dependent parents, and dependent children of Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and died directly.
Specifically, these survivors could be eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). This monthly payment provides regular income to family members who were dependent on a deceased Veteran for their income.
In addition, survivors could be eligible for DIC if the Veteran they were related to died from other service-related injuries or diseases. The same is true for survivors of Veterans who were totally disabled from service-connected conditions at the time of their death.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation can keep surviving dependents from facing severe financial hardship after a terrible loss.
Furthermore, surviving spouses and children of Veterans who died from a service-connected disability could be eligible for certain health care benefits. Under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA), these survivors could qualify for health insurance, health services, covered medical procedures, and much more.
As with the above benefit, survivors could be eligible for CHAMPVA medical coverage if the Veteran was permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected disability at the time of their death. Note that survivors cannot simultaneously be eligible for CHAMPVA and TRICARE/CHAMPUS.
Agent Orange severely impacted the biological systems of Veterans exposed to the herbicide. In some instances, Veterans’ reproductive systems were impacted by this toxin.
Many years of studies have discovered that some biological children may have been born with birth defects because of reproductive damage sustained by their mothers and fathers. The VA now provides various benefits for children with birth defects that can be connected to Agent Orange exposure.
Children with spina bifida or certain other birth defects – and are legal, biological children of Veterans with qualifying service in Korea or Vietnam – could be eligible for a host of disability benefits. These include:
Disabled children only qualify if their birth defect resulted in a permanent mental or physical disability. Furthermore, covered birth defects don’t include any conditions that could be related to family disorders, birth-related injuries, or other potential causes.
In addition, children who are the biological offspring of female Veterans who served in Vietnam could automatically be eligible for birth defect compensation. This is only true if the birth mother served in Vietnam between February 28, 1961, and May 7, 1975. The child should also have been conceived after the Veteran entered Vietnam during the above-mentioned qualifying service timeframe.
To apply for these benefits, children born with birth defects should complete VA Form 21-0304. The Application for Benefits for Certain Children with Disabilities Born of Vietnam and Certain Korea Service Veterans enables you to apply for all potential benefits simultaneously. This streamlines the application process and prevents you from having to fill out multiple copies of the same paperwork again and again.
For a surviving widow or other family member to qualify for Agent Orange survivors’ benefits, they should be related to a Veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange and died as a result. The VA generally recognizes any Veterans who served in Vietnam or Korea as potentially qualifying for Agent Orange benefits.
Furthermore, the VA’s official page on Agent Orange benefits breaks down other service requirements to secure the presumption of exposure to this herbicide. This includes Veterans who served in or around certain waterways of Vietnam, in or around the Korean DMZ, and in countries like Cambodia and Guam. Look through the VA’s page for a full list of all possible locations that qualify for presumptive exposure.
Though you may qualify for Agent Orange survivors’ benefits, you should only try to claim them with the assistance of experienced attorneys. Veterans law attorneys may help you acquire Agent Orange benefits after your claim has been denied, especially since they:
Agent Orange benefits for widows and survivors are crucial financial and insurance tools that those survivors should use as early as possible. If you believe your loved one died because of Agent Orange exposure and you qualify for these benefits, you should contact experienced Veterans law attorneys right away.
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