The United States Senate recently passed the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (Honoring Our PACT) Act. This new piece of legislation, assuming it passes the House of Representatives, is set to become the biggest expansion to veterans’ disability benefits in decades. In addition to increasing available benefits, it will also make it easier for the VA to hire medical staff, improving availability of services.
What is the Honoring Our PACT Act?
The Honoring Our PACT Act is a new bill that, if passed into law, would substantially expand the availability of veterans’ disability benefits and veteran healthcare. The bill represents an additional $147 billion in appropriations to the VA through 2031, which is the single largest expansion to the organization’s budget in the history of the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is meant to help facilitate healthcare at VA medical facilities, which many veterans (and disabled veterans in particular) rely upon for their care.
What Will the Act Do?
Among other things, the Honoring Our PACT Act would increase pay for VA staff across the board, including most doctors and nurses. This is to help hire and retain medical staff at an agency that is notorious for its high turnover rates. It is also meant to address certain hiring practices that are now seen as outdated or out of step with modern standards, such as requiring nurses to write an essay as part of their application. In addition, it allows the VA to hire more people to assist with processing claims, leading to shorter wait times for veterans seeking disability benefits.
How Will This Affect Disabled Veterans?
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that about 5.4 million Americans,
or about a third of all veterans in the United States, receive some form of disability compensation. This includes receiving healthcare through the VA medical system, which is the single largest healthcare system in the United States. By making it easier to hire and retain staff, including new claims processors, the Act would ensure that more veterans get the care they need, faster and more easily.
What Should You Do?
If you are a veteran and you are suffering from an illness or injury you incurred as a result of your military service, you may be eligible for disability benefits. To give yourself the best chance at getting access to these benefits, you should speak to a lawyer with experience handling VA disability claims. They can help you to write and submit your application, as well as assist you in the event of any disputes or appeals.
The attorneys of Sullivan & Kehoe place a special focus on assisting disabled veterans. Our veterans’ disability lawyers are still available for remote consultation on your legal issues. Call our office at (800) 395-7830 to schedule a consultation in our New York City, Garden City, Kings Park, Riverhead, or White Plains office, or visit our contact page.