The Department of Veterans Affairs (also known as the VA) has begun processing PACT Act claims, beginning with terminally ill veterans. This Act, which was passed on August 10, helps to expand accessibility of VA benefits for veterans affected by burn pits, Agent Orange, and other forms of toxic exposure. As a result, many veterans, including those with terminal illnesses, will be able to receive VA disability benefits they may have been previously denied.
What is the PACT Act?
The “Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022,” also known simply as the PACT Act for short, is a law that was passed earlier this year to help veterans suffering from the effects of toxic exposure they experienced during their military service. Typically, this involves people who were exposed to burn pits, large open pits where the military burns its garbage, which are known to give off toxic fumes. It also includes those exposed to toxic chemicals like Agent Orange, which is a chemical defoliant used during the Vietnam War that can cause cancer and other serious health problems.
What Does the PACT Act Do?
The PACT Act does several things to help veterans who may be suffering from the effects of toxic exposure. This includes increasing funding to the VA for treating medical conditions related to toxic exposure. It also includes adding twenty new “presumptive conditions” to the list of known disorders related to military service. These presumptive conditions will generally be assumed to be the result of military service even with the absence of medical records proving such, making it easier for them to obtain VA disability benefits.
How is the VA Responding to the PACT Act?
Technically, the VA was only supposed to begin processing PACT Act claims starting in January 2023. However, it has already begun to process the claims for terminally ill veterans to ensure they are able to gain access to their benefits as soon as possible. Other veterans making claims under the Act may not see the benefits right away, but for many, it is far better than the total lack of benefits they received before.
How Could the PACT Act Help You?
If you are a veteran suffering from a medical condition related to toxic exposure during your military service, you may be able to apply for VA disability benefits. However, to give your application the best chance of success, you should speak to a lawyer with experience handling veteran disability claims. They can help you to fill out your application, and argue on your behalf if any legal issues arise.
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.