New federal rule expands benefits for Vietnam veterans

Any U.S. military veteran can be eligible for government disability support if they have suffered a serious injury or illness related to their service. However, the unfortunate reality is that it can be difficult to establish a connection between an illness and military duty, which could mean that the Department of Veterans Affairs will deny a claim for benefits.

Recently, however, this process was made a little easier for one group of veterans: those exposed to Agent Orange. According to reports, the While House Office of Management and Budget recently approved a rule that would make available funds to cover claims for disability by service members who were exposed to the chemicals through the residue on military planes.

Until the rule was approved, the government was denying claims that soldiers were exposed to the residue. However, a recent report brought to light evidence that Agent Orange residue was in fact found on planes that pilots, mechanics and other soldiers worked on and used to drop the toxic chemical. The report goes on to say that these people developed serious illnesses like cancer and diabetes as a result of that exposure.

Now that the rule has been approved, the federal government will start providing benefits to veterans who can provide evidence that they came into contact with the planes used to drop Agent Orange and have developed a serious condition as a result. 

It can still be a frustrating challenge to provide the type of evidence that the VA is looking for when it comes to disability benefits. People may not understand what information must be submitted and trying to sort it all out can be overwhelming, especially when they are coping with a serious health problem. However, this process can be much easier for people working with an attorney experienced in navigating the disability and veterans’ benefits systems.

Source: NBC News, “U.S. to Pay Benefits to Vets Exposed to Agent Orange in C-123s,” June 18, 2015