WASHINGTON (August 31, 2011)- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K.
Shinseki announced today that more than $2.2 billion in retroactive
benefits has already been paid to approximately 89,000 Vietnam Veterans
and their survivors who filed claims related to one of three new Agent
Orange presumptive conditions.
On August 31, 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) amended its
regulations to add ischemic heart disease, hairy cell leukemia and other
chronic B-cell leukemias, and Parkinson's disease to the list of
diseases presumed to be related to exposure to Agent Orange.
"As the President said to the American Legion yesterday, VA is
committed to ensuring Veterans and their families receive the care and
benefits they have earned," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K.
Shinseki. "I encourage all potentially eligible Veterans to apply as
soon as possible to preserve the most favorable effective date for
For new claims, VA may authorize up to one year of retroactive benefits
if a Veteran can show that he or she has experienced one of those
conditions since the date of the regulatory change.
VA has reviewed, and continues to review, thousands of previously filed
claims that may qualify for retroactive benefits under a long-standing
court order of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of
California in Nehmer vs. U.S. Veterans Administration.
"VA encourages survivors of Veterans whose death may be due to one of
the three diseases to file a claim for dependency and indemnity
compensation," added Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey.
Secretary Shinseki's decision to add these conditions to the list of
Agent Orange presumptive conditions was based on a study by the
Institute of Medicine, which indicated a positive association between
exposure to certain herbicides and the subsequent development of one or
more of the three conditions.
Potentially eligible Veterans include those who were exposed based on
duty or visitation in Vietnam or on its inland waterways between January
9, 1962, and May 7, 1975; exposed along the demilitarized zone in Korea
between April 1, 1968, and August 31, 1971; or exposed due to herbicide
tests and storage at military bases within and outside of the United
The Agent Orange Claims Processing System website located at
https://www.fasttrack.va.gov/AOFastTrack/ may be used to submit claims
related to the three new presumptive conditions.
The website makes it easy to electronically file a claim and allows
Veterans and their physicians to upload evidence supporting the claim.
It also permits online viewing of claim status.
Beyond the three new presumptive disabilities, Veterans may file online
at VA's My-eBenefits web site at:
can check the status of their claim with a premium account (confirming
their identity), and use a growing number of online services.
Servicemembers may enroll in My-eBenefits by using their Common Access
Card at anytime during their military service, or before they leave
during their Transition Assistance Program briefings.
Veterans may also enroll through their myPay or MyHealtheVet accounts by
visiting their local VA regional office or Veteran Service Organization,
or by calling 1-800-827-1000.
For more information about Agent Orange presumptives and disability
compensation, go to
http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/. For questions
about Agent Orange, Veterans may call VA's Special Issues Helpline at
1-800-749-8387 and press 3.
Sean P Eagan
Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans