How to File a PACT Act Claim

How to File a PACT Act Claim

If you were exposed to toxic chemicals while you served our country, and you were diagnosed with certain conditions or cancers, you may file a claim for disability benefits.

To honor our Veterans and address the dangerous health effects of toxic chemical exposure during their service, the government passed the PACT Act. This Act provides benefits when you follow certain requirements.

Here, we’ll describe the Act and explain how to file a PACT Act claim if you meet the requirements. If you have questions about your rights or the proper procedures, many available resources can answer them, including dedicated PACT Act lawyers who work to protect Veterans’ legal rights. 

A Quick Summary of the PACT Act

If you’re wondering how to file a PACT Act Claim, it’s important to understand the Act itself. The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins Act of 2022, also known as the PACT Act, became law on August 10, 2022. The Act addresses the health issues of Veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals because of their service. 

The PACT Act also includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which specifically affects Veterans, their families, and civilians who were exposed to toxic water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

The PACT Act provides important benefits to qualified service members facing certain medical conditions because of toxic chemical exposure during their dedicated service.

What Benefits Are Included in the PACT Act?

The PACT Act expands the right to receive VA health care to Veterans who were exposed to toxic elements during military timeframes, including Vietnam, Gulf War, and 9/11-related service. 

The Act also includes benefits for more than 20 additional presumptive conditions and locations, including illnesses acquired from burn pit and Agent Orange exposure. The VA is now required to provide screenings for toxic exposure to every Veteran enrolled in the VA health care program. 

Who Qualifies For Benefits Under the PACT Act?

Veterans who served at certain locations during specific timeframes may be eligible for PACT Act benefits. The VA must determine if you suffered burn pit or toxic chemical exposure. Under the following circumstances, you are presumed to have toxic exposure for purposes of the PACT Act:

  • If you served on September 11, 2001, or subsequently in these locations:
    • Afghanistan
    • Djibouti
    • Egypt
    • Jordan 
    • Lebanon
    • Syria
    • Uzbekistan
    • Yemen
    • The airspace above any of these locations
  • If you served on or after August 2, 1990, in these locations:
    • Bahrain
    • Iraq
    • Kuwait
    • Oman
    • Qatar
    • Saudi Arabia
    • Somalia
    • The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
    • The airspace above any of these places

For those who served in Vietnam, five additional locations and timeframes are now considered presumptive for PACT Act benefits. They are:

  • Any U.S. or Royal Thai military base in Thailand from January 9, 1962, through June 30, 1976 
  • Laos from December 1, 1965, through September 30, 1969
  • Cambodia at Mimot or Krek, Kampong Cham Province from April 16, 1969, through April 30, 1969
  • Guam or American Samoa or in the territorial waters off of Guam or American Samoa from January 9, 1962, through July 31, 1980
  • Johnston Atoll or on a ship located at Johnston Atoll from January 1, 1972, through September 30, 1977

These locations and times are not a full list of presumptive places that qualify for Agent Orange exposure claims. If you were exposed and are considering filing for benefits, review the Agent Orange eligibility requirements established by the VA with a PACT Act lawyer.

Which Conditions Qualify You for Presumptive Benefits?

Veterans who were exposed to burn pits, toxic chemicals, or other toxic circumstances and who were diagnosed with these conditions qualify for PACT Act benefits:

Presumptive cancers:

  • Brain cancer
  • Gastrointestinal cancers
  • Glioblastoma
  • Cancer of the head
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Melanoma
  • Cancer of the neck
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Reproductive cancers
  • Respiratory cancers

Presumptive illnesses and conditions:

  • Asthma, if diagnosed after service-related exposure
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic rhinitis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Constructive bronchiolitis
  • Obliterative bronchiolitis
  • Emphysema
  • Granulomatous disease
  • Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
  • Pleuritis
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Sarcoidosis

The VA website offers more detailed information about these presumptive cancers and conditions as well.

How to Apply For PACT Act Benefits

If you served in one of the locations listed above during the timeframe specified, you can file a new claim for benefits online, by mail, in person at the VA office, or with the assistance of a trained professional such as a Veteran’s attorney who is well versed in VA benefits claims. 

A skilled lawyer may also help you if you have already filed a claim but it was denied. For example, if you previously filed a claim for benefits related to a condition that was not on the presumptive list at that time but is now considered presumptive, you should now file a Supplemental claim. Or, if the VA denied your prior application for a different reason, you may appeal that decision

What is an Intent to File a VA Claim?

Sometimes, applying for VA benefits takes time. You may wait weeks or months before you receive a response or actual benefits. If you complete an Intent to File and your application is eventually approved, you can receive benefits retroactively dated back to the date your Intent to File was received by the VA.

When you begin filling out the application for benefits online, the VA is notified that you intend to request benefits. It will then reserve that date as your potential benefits start date if your application is approved. You can also prepare and submit an official Intent to File form to ensure your benefits are backdated to the beginning of your application process.

The sooner you file for benefits under the PACT Act, the sooner you can start receiving payment for your service-related toxic exposure conditions.

How Long Will the VA Take to Approve Your PACT Act Application?

The VA promises to act as quickly as possible on each application. However, because the PACT Act has created an opportunity for many disabled Veterans, it is processing hundreds of thousands of applications to ensure our service members finally receive the benefits they deserve.

In the first year of eligibility, the VA completed 458,659 PACT Act claims and paid more than $1.85 billion in benefits to Veterans and their surviving families. Since every claim is different, the time it will take to review each claim will depend on the complexity of the situation.

Can a Veteran’s Survivors Receive PACT Act Benefits?

A surviving family member of a Veteran who was exposed to toxic chemicals during their service, as described above, may be eligible for various benefits, such as:

  • VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC) – a monthly payment allowed for a surviving spouse, dependent child, or parent of a Veteran who died because of a service-related condition.
  • Accrued Benefit Payment – a one-time payment for a surviving spouse, dependent child, or parent of a Veteran who was owed benefits at the time of the Veteran’s death, but those payments were not made.
  • Survivor’s Pension – may be available to a surviving spouse or child of a Veteran with a wartime service record.

If You Have Questions About How to File a PACT Act Claim, Reach Out Today

Applying for VA benefits can be complicated and stressful. If you are looking for someone you can trust to help guide you through the VA system, look no further than Berry Law. We are Veterans helping Veterans, and we have dedicated our legal practice to fighting for Veteran’s rights and benefits. 

Call us at (888) 883-2483 or complete our simple online form to speak with a knowledgeable Veteran’s lawyer today.

ptsd attorney john berry
PACT Act Attorney, John Berry
Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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