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.
In this post, 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.
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.
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.
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:
For those who served in Vietnam, five additional locations and timeframes are now considered presumptive for PACT Act benefits. They are:
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.
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 illnesses and conditions:
The VA website offers more detailed information about these presumptive cancers and conditions as well.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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