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Ionizing Radiation

If you have certain diseases, including some cancers, and you were exposed to ionizing radiation during service, VA may consider those diseases to be service related. See 38 CFR 3.311(b)(5) for more information.

Are you eligible for compensation?

Yes, if:

You were exposed to ionizing radiation during military service in one of the following ways:

  • As a participant in atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, or
  • As a participant in the postwar occupation of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, or
  • As a prisoner of war in Japan, or
  • While working in a military occupation such as an x-ray technician, performing work in a reactor plant, nuclear medicine, or radiography (Note: Your exposure to ionizing radiation must have occurred while serving on active duty or as a member of a Reserve component of the Armed Forces during a period of active or inactive duty for training), or
  • While performing tasks similar to those performed by a Department of Energy (DOE) employee qualifying them as a member of the Special Exposure Cohort. See 42 U.S.C. 7384L(14)
  • You have one of the recognized radiogenic diseases or an unlisted disease that medical opinion relates to exposure to radiation.
  • The radiogenic disease has manifested within a certain period of time.
  • You were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.

Who is covered


Available benefits

  • Compensation
  • Health care

How it works

VA requests from the appropriate military service or the Defense Threat Reduction Agency an estimate of your level or range of radiation exposure. The military service or agency reports to VA the range within which a Veteran may have been exposed, and VA accepts the highest level of the dose range. See 38 CFR 3.311(b)(5) for more information.


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Please note: Content on this Web page is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal advice or to be a comprehensive statement or analysis of applicable statutes, regulations, and case law governing this topic. Rather, it’s a plain-language summary. If you are seeking claims assistance, your local VA regional office, a VA-recognized Veterans Service Organization, or a VA-accredited attorney or agent can help. Search Accredited Attorneys, Claims Agents, or Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) Representatives.