The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins Act, formally known as the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins Act (the PACT Act), was signed into law on August 10, 2022. The PACT Act aims to compensate millions of veterans who have been affected by toxic substances and associated health risks during military service. It significantly expands VA health care and benefits and brings important changes. The VA began processing PACT Act benefits claims on January 1, 2023. Learn about how the PACT Act affects veterans and their benefits.
How Does it Affect Veterans?
Generally, the PACT Act brings the following changes to the table:
- Expanded Eligibility: The PACT Act expands eligibility for VA health care to veterans who were previously ineligible, including veterans who served in certain locations with toxic exposures, and veterans from the Vietnam War, Gulf War, and post 9-11 era.
- Presumption of Service: The PACT Act contains more presumptive conditions for veterans who have certain medical conditions related to toxic exposure. Veterans with these conditions will no longer have to prove that their exposure occurred during military service, making it easier to get accepted into VA health care.
- The PACT Act adds a list of more presumptive conditions for burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic exposures. It also adds more presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation.
- Toxic Exposure Screening: The PACT Act requires the VA to provide a toxic exposure screening to every veteran when they are admitted for VA health care.
- Improvements to Claim Process: The PACT Act creates a more efficient process for veterans to file claims for toxic exposure, including allowing veterans to submit claims based on exposure without a medical diagnosis.
- More Resources: The PACT Act provides more resources and funding for research into service-connected disability and health effects of toxic exposure, increasing the benefits available to veterans who have been affected.
How Does it Impact Veterans Benefits?
The PACT Act entitles veterans to a range of benefits, including:
- Disability compensation, which provides financial support for medical care and other expenses related to veterans’ specific conditions.
- Health care services from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) including medical care, mental health care, and other forms of support.
- Dependency and indemnity compensation, which provides financial support to surviving spouses and dependents of veterans who died as a result of toxic exposure.
- Education and training benefits to help veterans obtain new skills and training, and help with reintegrating into civilian life.
The PACT Act represents an important step forward in supporting veterans and their families who have been affected by toxic exposure, and providing them with the benefits and compensation that they deserve. If you or a loved one has been affected by toxic exposure during military service, it is important to speak with an experienced VA-benefits attorney who can help you navigate the claims process and receive the benefits you’re entitled to under the law.