How to Apply for Agent Orange Benefits

By Robyn Lynne Schechter
Agent Orange is a toxic chemical that was sprayed in Vietnam in the 1960s and1970s.

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Agent Orange is the name of the herbicide used by the United States government when it waged the Vietnam War. It was used to destroy foliage that provided coverage for North Vietnamese troops. Unfortunately, other people, such as civilians and American troops, were exposed to the chemical. Those troops exposed to the sprayed toxic chemical have suffered life-threatening and ending diseases, such as cancer, and passed on birth defects to their children. The United States government offers monetary, medical and vocational benefits to those individuals who have been affected by Agent Orange.

Download and complete VA Form 21-526 to apply for Agent Orange benefits. VA Form 21-526 is the application that veterans must use to apply for compensation. The form is available for download on the Department of Veteran Affairs website. The form requires veterans to provide basic biographical and financial information, as well as a description of their service-related illness.

Provide proof of service in Vietnam. The National Archives is the entity that is responsible for maintaining the nation's military personnel records. Unless the applicant has a copy of his service records, the applicant should download and complete Standard Form SF-180, which is a request for military records. The form requests basic information (e.g., social security number, branch of service) that allows government personnel to locate an individual file. Mail the completed form to the appropriate address listed in the form's instructions; records are maintained at various locations, depending on the branch and date of discharge.

Provide evidence of a diagnosis of an illness that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has recognized as being caused by exposure to Agent Orange (e.g., Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Parkinson's Disease). A complete list of illnesses for which benefits are approved are available on the VA's website. The physician who diagnosed the illness will be able to write a letter on your behalf to this effect. Sending medical records is not necessary unless the VA specifically requests them.

Mail the completed form, and supporting documentation, to the VA regional office nearest to the candidate. Do not bring the application packet to a veterans' hospital. Before mailing, make a copy of the documents for your records. Mail the package certified mail, return receipt requested, as this will allow you to know that the claim has been received by the VA.

About the Author

Robyn Lynne Schechter is a freelance writer currently living in Los Angeles, Calif. She has been an online contributor since 2007 on brandchannel.com, covering branding developments in the fashion, music, sports and entertainment industries. Schechter graduated from Hood College with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and is also a graduate of Albany Law School.

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