VA Disability for Agent Orange and Prostate Cancer

The VA recognizes a connection between Agent Orange and prostate cancer. The herbicide, used during the Vietnam War to kill vegetation hiding enemy soldiers, has been linked to various conditions, including prostate cancer. If you have an active prostate cancer diagnosis and can establish a connection to your service, you are eligible for a 100 percent disability rating for compensation, and you may be eligible for additional residual compensation.

Any cancer diagnosis brings uncertainty and fear. Unfortunately, many veterans have experienced toxic exposure to chemicals such as Agent Orange that contribute to the likelihood of a cancer diagnosis.

The VA presumes a connection between Agent Orange and prostate cancer. If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer and can prove exposure to Agent Orange during your military service, you can file a claim for VA disability compensation.

Veterans and Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men. However, it is highly treatable when discovered early, with a five-year survival rate of 99 percent. Common symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • Frequent urination (especially at night)
  • Pain during urination
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Consistent back, hip, or pelvis pain
  • Difficulty with urination, including the following:
    • Starting your stream
    • Maintaining a steady stream
    • Emptying your bladder

Prostate cancer is often linked to Agent Orange, an herbicide U.S. military personnel used to destroy vegetation. Over 11 million gallons were applied by air, sprayer trucks, and backyard sprayers. In addition to the Vietnam War, it’s also linked to exposure to burn pits in the Gulf War or post-9/11 military service.

How Does the VA Rate Prostate Cancer?

When you submit your claim, the VA will use medical records to determine the severity of your disability and then assign it a corresponding disability rating which determines your monthly compensation. Ratings are issued in 10 percent increments from 0 percent to 100 percent.

Prostate cancer is rated under diagnostic code 7528 at 100 percent while the cancer is active. If you need surgery to treat your prostate cancer, the VA keeps your 100 percent rating for at least six months, even if the surgery removes the cancer.

Total Disability Individual Unemployability and Prostate Cancer

Once your prostate cancer has been treated successfully, you may qualify for Total Disability Individual Unemployability for a 100 percent disability rating if you have other service-related conditions.

To qualify for Total Disability Individual Unemployability with prostate cancer, you’ll need to prove you have one of the following:

  • One service-related condition rated at 60 percent or more
  • Multiple service-related conditions with a combined rating of at least 70 percent and one condition rated at least 40 percent 
  • A lower disability rating, but you are frequently hospitalized for treatment

You’ll also need to prove that you cannot work a steady job due to your disability. For example, if you have post-traumatic stress disorder related to your service rated at 50 percent, and you have urinary incontinence after prostate cancer that’s rated at 30 percent, you may qualify for Total Disability Individual Unemployability.

Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022 and Toxic Exposure

The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, also known as the PACT Act, was enacted in 2022. It expanded the presumption that certain conditions are service-connected for exposure to the following:

  • Burn pits
  • Agent Orange
  • Radiation
  • Other toxic chemicals

The law added prostate cancers to the list of presumptive conditions resulting from burn pit exposure during the Gulf War or post-9/11 era and established additional presumptive locations for Agent Orange exposure, including:

  • Any U.S. or Royal Thai military base located in Thailand (January 9, 1962, to June 30, 1976)
  • Laos (December 1, 1965, to September 30, 1969)
  • Cambodia at Mimot or Krek in Kampong Cham Province (April 16, 1969, to April 30, 1969)
  • Guam or American Samoa or their territorial waters (January 9, 1962, to July 31, 1980)
  • Johnston Atoll or any ship that called there (January 1, 1972, to September 30, 1977)

If you previously filed a VA claim for your prostate cancer and were denied, and any of these expanded locations, dates, or exposures apply to you, you should file a Supplemental Claim.

What Are the Residual VA Benefits for Prostate Cancer?

Once your cancer is cured, you may receive additional compensation based on any of the long-term consequences of prostate cancer, such as:

  • Erectile dysfunction: Mostly a zero percent rating, but since you have lost a reproductive organ, you are entitled to Special Monthly Compensation
  • Frequent urination: Disability rating ranges from 10 percent to 40 percent based on the frequency of urination
    • A 10 percent rating involves:
      • Regular daytime urination every two to four hours
      • Waking twice per night to urinate
    • A 40 percent rating involves:
      • Regular urination less than every hour
      • Waking at least five times per night to urinate
  • Renal dysfunction: Disability rating of 0 percent to 100 percent based on the frequency of dialysis or type of symptoms 
  • Urinary incontinence: Typically, a 20 percent to 60 percent rating based on adult diaper or pad usage 
    • A 20 percent rating involves the required changing of absorbent materials less than twice a day
    • A 40 percent rating involves the required changing of absorbent materials two to four times per day
    • A 60 percent rating involves required appliances such as a catheter or changing absorbent materials more than four times per day

Is Prostate Cancer a Presumptive Condition for Veterans?

Because so many servicemembers exposed to Agent Orange developed prostate cancer during or after their service, the VA considers it a presumptive condition. For your case of prostate cancer to be considered presumptive, you must prove that you did at least one of the following:

  • Served in one of the following locations between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975:
    • The Republic of Vietnam
    • On a U.S. military vessel that operated in inland water of Vietnam
    • On a U.S. military vessel less than 12 nautical miles from the nautical demarcation line between Cambodia and Vietnam
  • Served in at least one of the locations added in the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act listed above
  • One of the following:
    • Participated in any duty that involved Agent Orange (i.e., transporting, testing, or storing)
    • Were on active duty in an Air Force unit location with a C-123 aircraft assigned which contained trace amounts of Agent Orange, and your duties involved repeated exposure to the aircraft (i.e., flight crew, ground crew, medical staff)
    • Served in or near the Korean DMZ from September 1, 1967, to August 31, 1971
  • Were a reservist assigned to flight, ground, or medical crew duties at any of the following:
    • Lockbourne/Rickenbacker Air Force Base (Ohio) 
      • Time of service: 1969-1986
      • Affected units:
        • 906th and 907th Tactical Air Groups
        • 355th and 356th Tactical Airlift Squadrons
    • Westover Air Force Base (Massachusetts)
      • Time of service: 1972-1982
      • Affected units:
        • 731st Tactical Air Squadron
        • 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
        • 901st Organizational Maintenance Squadron
    • Pittsburgh International Airport (Pennsylvania)
      • Time of service: 1972-1982
      • Affected unit:
        • 758th Airlift Squadron

How to Obtain VA Disability Compensation for Prostate Cancer

If you think your prostate cancer is service-connected, you can take these steps to file a claim for VA disability benefits.

  1. Prove your prostate cancer has a service connection by gathering the following evidence:
    • A current diagnosis
    • Proof of a diagnosis, symptom onset, incident, or injury connected to your service, such as a service record that puts you at a base utilizing a burn pit during the Gulf War
    • A nexus letter from your doctor that links your diagnosis directly to your service
  2. Add the following to your claim paperwork to further support your case:
    • Medical records from VA hospitals
    • Medical records from private hospitals
    • Supporting testimony from those closest to you who can attest to the diagnosis and progression of your condition
  3. File your claim with the VA using one of the following methods:

Veterans Guide understands that navigating the VA claims process can be tedious, especially when dealing with a new prostate cancer diagnosis and potentially grueling treatment. Contact us today for help.

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