When a veteran wants to apply for Agent Orange benefits, they must understand that there are certain diseases and disabilities that are presumptive to Agent Orange. In other words, if a veteran served in Vietnam or along the Korean DMZ during a specific time frame and has one of these specific disabilities, the VA presumes that that disability should be service-connected. The disability must also be to the degree of 10% or more to be eligible for service connection.
Because the VA presumes that a given disability occurred because the veteran served in a specific area, he or she must establish service in that area during that time and then receive a specific diagnosis for one of the presumptive diseases or conditions associated with Agent Orange.
When you submit a claim to the VA, you have a number of options. For example, if you’re filing a VA claim for the very first time, you have an original claim. A reopened claim means you have new and material evidence and you want VA to reconsider a claim it once denied. There are also new claims, secondary claims, and special claims.
In addition, veterans can use The Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program, which is an optional initiative that is supposed to provide Veterans and survivors faster decisions from VA on Agent Orange compensation, pension, and survivor benefit claims. Veterans pursuing the FDC program should submit all relevant military and medical records in their possession at the time they make their claim and certify that they have no further evidence to submit. This way, the VA can review and process the claim more quickly as they do not have to work to gather additional records.
If you are suffering from a disease and believe you have all of your evidence in order, the FDC program could be the best way to fast-track your claim. Vietnam veterans suffering from hairy cell or other chronic b-cell leukemias, Parkinson’s disease, or ischemic heart disease due to exposure to Agent Orange use the VA’s FDC program because in theory it enables them to apply for disability benefits in a more expedient manner and have access to online updates.
Overall, as with applying for any disability benefits from the VA, Agent Orange benefits require medical evidence of a current disability. In order to get the presumption that the current disability was caused by Agent Orange, you must demonstrate that you served within the times and at the locations where service members were presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange. The veterans claims process can be confusing and frustrating, but for those suffering from Agent Orange disabilities, these claims are often worth pursuing.
Are you receiving the veterans’ disability compensation you are entitled to receive by law? If you need assistance appealing VA Rating Decisions for mental health conditions or physical disabilities that occurred in service, please contact Berry Law Firm.
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