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Veteran Disability Benefits for Vietnam-era Vets and Survivors

In 2010, Vietnam veterans became eligible for VA disability benefits for certain leukemias, heart ailments and Parkinson's disease resulting from exposure to Agent Orange, a defoliant widely used during the Vietnam War. However, it is possible that such veterans or their families are unaware of this change and have not applied for disability or survivor's benefits for their service-related illnesses.

One regional VA office is taking a proactive stance, putting out the word to California vets in the San Bernardino County area in hopes of reaching veterans who might be eligible. The director of the office, Bill Moseley, says that survivors of veterans who may have applied and been denied before the 2010 change should also consider filing claims. "My concern is if a veteran died from a heart attack 10 years ago, the widow may not be aware that she is entitled to survivor benefits," Moseley said. "My heart tells me that there are some widows out there."

The amount of the benefit for veterans depends on the severity of their illness. Benefits for widows are fixed at $1,215 per month, with dependent children receiving $301 per month.

Moseley cautioned that the benefits are available only for ischemic heart disease rather than associated conditions, such as hypertension, peripheral vascular disease and stroke.

There is sometimes a long journey between knowing that you might be eligible for benefits and actually receiving those benefits. You can make it easier by doing what so many other Vietnam vets and their families have done. Call a VA-accredited claims agent at The Rep for Vets® from anywhere in the United States. They can help.

Source: The Press-Enterprise, "REGION: Veterans Affairs office seeks Agent Orange beneficiaries," by Mark Muckenfuss, Mar. 1, 2013.

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