September 1, 2022
By Tony DeFalco, Vice President of International Services and Security Compliance
Veterans have a new benefit to take advantage of now that the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act has become law. This program, the most significant expansion of benefits for toxin-exposed veterans in more than 30 years, provides health care exams and care for service-related exposure to toxic materials.
Under PACT, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) expanded to 23 the list of conditions related to exposure to burn pits, Agent Orange and radiation hazards. In a big win for veterans, the VA presumes that military service caused the condition, so veterans do not have to prove the connection as long as the condition is established by law or regulation. Veterans now can get their benefits faster and with fewer burdens during the process.
Funding covers regular health screenings and care for all toxic-exposure conditions such as multiple forms of cancer and respiratory illnesses. Veterans also qualify for disability compensation, and dependents of veterans who have died from these conditions may qualify for benefits.
PACT commits the VA to researching toxic exposure of veterans from different conflicts and regions. The findings and trends from that will help the government establish policies that address the danger of exposure.
Claims can be filed immediately, although the VA will not begin processing them under January 2023. This will give the agency some time to bolster its capacity to handle the surge of new claims. Facility expansion, training and outreach, IT infrastructure and workflow processes are some of the expected improvements.
As a provider of medical disability exams to veterans, VES knows a program of this size will have multiple steps to implement and invite many questions. The VA has published details on the conditions, locations and timeframes of military service qualify for claims, and how to file claims. VES will continue to post relevant details as they come available.