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Blue Water Navy Veterans’ disability claims began Jan.1, 2020

Agent Orange Newsletter: Information for Vietnam-era Veterans and their families.
 
uss coral sea aircraft carrier on blue water

by Renee Johnson, Public Affairs Specialist, Veterans Benefits Administration

Did you serve in the offshore waters of the Republic of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975? If so, then you’re considered a Blue Water Navy (BWN) Veteran, and you may now be eligible for disability compensation and other benefits.

On Jan. 1, 2020, the Blue Water Navy Act of 2019 took effect. This Act, signed into law on June 25, 2019, extends the presumption of herbicide exposure, such as Agent Orange, to BWN Veterans who served as far as 12 nautical miles from the shore of the Republic of Vietnam and have since developed one of 14 medical conditions related to exposure. Some of these conditions include Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, many forms of cancer and others. You may now be eligible for disability compensation and other benefits. In addition, if you’re a Veteran who served in the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between Sept. 1, 1967, and Aug. 31, 1971, you may also qualify for compensation and benefits for yourself and your family members.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M ELIGIBLE FOR DISABILITY COMPENSATION?

You don’t need to prove contact with herbicides to be eligible. However, the best way to find out if you’re eligible is to work with an accredited claims representative or VA regional office before filing a claim.

HOW DO I FILE A CLAIM FOR COMPENSATION BENEFITS?

If this is your first time filing a VA disability claim, use Form 21-526EZ, Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits, and learn more about how to file your claim.

You can also contact an accredited Veterans Service Organization (VSO) to assist you with your application. Find a list of VA-approved VSOs. You may also contact your state’s Veterans agency for additional assistance with the application process.

WHAT IF I’VE PREVIOUSLY FILED A CLAIM THAT WAS DENIED?

If you filed an herbicide exposure claim that was denied in the past, and it included one or more presumptive conditions, you are urged to file a new claim. VA is also using the new law to automatically review claims currently in the VA review process or under appeal.

When you begin the claims process again, be sure to provide any new or relevant information regarding your claim, such as updated medical information or the dates your vessel traveled through the offshore waters of the Republic of Vietnam.

For re-submitting a claim, use VA Form 20-0995, Decision Review Request: Supplemental Claim.

HOW SHOULD SURVIVORS AND DEPENDENTS APPLY FOR AN INITIAL DEPENDENCY AND INDEMNITY COMPENSATION (DIC) CLAIM FOR A VETERAN WHO DIED OF A PRESUMPTIVE CONDITION?

Eligible survivors and dependents must meet certain conditions to receive DIC. If you are eligible, there are several ways to file a claim, including:

  • By mail, using VA Form 21P-534EZ.
  • In person at a VA regional office.
  • Through an accredited claims representative or VSO.

Learn more about this process.

WHAT BENEFITS WILL I RECEIVE IF MY CLAIM IS APPROVED?

If you are deemed eligible, you may receive a monthly disability compensation payment and free healthcare related to your disability. The amount of compensation is determined by your diagnosed condition and level of disability.

Another important component of the Blue Water Navy Act includes changes to the VA Home Loan program. VA now allows the “no-down payment” option on guaranteed home loans, regardless of mortgage amount, for all Veterans. In addition, there is a reduction in the funding fee required for Reservists and National Guard borrowers and other changes.

More information and resources on the Blue Water Navy Act, eligibility, how to file a claim, and changes to the VA Home Loan Program can be found online.

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