The VA reported last month that over half a million veteran disability claims have been filed under the PACT Act. Although vets were able to file claims as early as August 2022, the VA was only able to begin processing the claims in January 2023. So far, the VA has processed over 203,000 claims, leading to over $1 billion in compensation for veterans.
To deal with the backlog of claims, the VA began a large-scale recruitment process in 2021, hiring physicians, nurses, medical support assistants, nursing assistants, and other workers. In the first six months of the fiscal year, the Veterans Health Administration hired 27,181 new employees. VA Secretary Denis McDonough wrote that the VA “won’t rest until every veteran and every survivor gets the VA health care and benefits they deserve.”
What is the PACT Act?
Passed in August 2022, the PACT Act expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to toxic substances, such as burn pits and Agent Orange. According to the VA’s website, the PACT Act:
- Expands and extends eligibility for VA health care for Veterans with toxic exposures and Veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras;
- Adds more than 20 new presumptive conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures;
- Adds more presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation;
- Requires VA to provide a toxic exposure screening to every Veteran enrolled in VA health care;
- Helps us improve research, staff education, and treatment related to toxic exposures
Since the PACT Act was passed, over 215,000 veterans have enrolled in VA healthcare. In addition, over 3 million veterans have been screened for toxic exposures, with about 42% of screened veterans reporting they experienced toxic exposure during their service.
Some of the most common illnesses addressed in veterans’ disability claims include:
- Allergic rhinitis
- Genitourinary tract cancers
Is It Too Late to File a Disability Claim Under the PACT Act?
It’s not too late to file a disability claim under the PACT Act. The VA encourages veterans who believe they may have a claim to file before August 10, 2023. All disability compensation claims filed before that date will be backdated to August 10, 2022. This means that if veterans are awarded compensation as a result of their claims, they will receive payments back to that date. Disability compensation claims filed after August 10, 2023 will be awarded based on the date of the filing.
For more information on whether you are eligible for benefits under the PACT Act, visit the VA’s website: https://www.va.gov/resources/the-pact-act-and-your-va-benefits/
We are Veterans Helping Veterans
The goal of our organization, the Veterans Legal Assistance Program, is to support both our active-duty and retired service members along with their families. We’ll keep you informed about the issues that affect you and your community, and we’ll connect you with people we trust.
We’ve got your six.