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The PACT Act: What Veterans Need to Know

The PACT Act: What Veterans Need to Know

At Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, we understand the unique challenges that Veterans face when seeking healthcare and benefits. In 2022, new legislation took affect to aid Veterans who have been exposed to toxic substances – the Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act. If you might have been exposed to a toxic substance during your time in service, you should know about the PACT Act.

What is the PACT Act, and How Does it Affect You?

The PACT Act is a new law that makes it easier for Veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other harmful stuff to get VA health care and benefits. It’s like a big expansion of help for you and other Veterans.

Here’s what the PACT Act does:

  1. More Health Care: If you were exposed to toxic things during your service, the PACT Act makes it easier for you to get VA health care. It also adds more conditions that qualify for care.
  2. Automatic Benefits: The PACT Act adds over 20 health conditions that are automatically linked to your service. This means you don’t have to prove they came from your time in the military; they’re already assumed to be connected.
  3. Screenings for Everyone: Now, every Veteran in VA health care will get checked for toxic exposures. This helps find and treat any health problems early.
  4. Better Research and Treatment: The PACT Act also helps the VA do more research, educate their staff better, and improve how they treat health issues linked to toxic exposures.

How Does The PACT Act Help Veterans?

The PACT Act made changes to the way the VA serves Veterans who served in Vietnam, the Gulf War, and after 9/11.

For Gulf War and Post-9/11 Veterans

If you served in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, or other locations after September 11, 2001, or if you were in the Gulf War, the PACT Act may mean more benefits for you. Cancers like brain cancer and illnesses like asthma are now automatically connected to your service.

Cancers now considered presumptive under the PACT Act include:

  • Brain cancer
  • Gastrointestinal cancer of any type
  • Glioblastoma
  • Head cancer of any type
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lymphoma of any type
  • Melanoma
  • Neck cancer of any type
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Reproductive cancer of any type
  • Respiratory (breathing-related) cancer of any type

Lean more about presumptive cancers linked to burn pits on the VA website.

Illnesses now considered presumptive under the PACT Act:

  • Asthma that was diagnosed after service
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic rhinitis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
  • Emphysema
  • Granulomatous disease
  • Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
  • Pleuritis
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Sarcoidosis

Learn more about presumptive conditions related to hazardous material exposure on the VA website.

For Vietnam Veterans

If you served in Vietnam or nearby areas, the PACT Act adds more conditions related to Agent Orange exposure. The VA now recognizes high blood pressure and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) as service-connected disabilities.

The PACT Act also expands locations for presumptive Agent Orange and radiation exposure.

For Agent Orange, presumptive exposure locations now include:

  • Any U.S. or Royal Thai military base in Thailand from January 9, 1962, through June 30, 1976
  • Laos from December 1, 1965, through September 30, 1969
  • Cambodia at Mimot or Krek, Kampong Cham Province from April 16, 1969, through April 30, 1969
  • Guam or American Samoa or in the territorial waters off of Guam or American Samoa from January 9, 1962, through July 31, 1980
  • Johnston Atoll or on a ship that called at Johnston Atoll from January 1, 1972, through September 30, 1977

If you served on active duty in any of these locations, the VA says it will automatically assume (or “presume”) that you had exposure to Agent Orange.

For radiation exposure, presumptive locations now include:

  • Cleanup of Enewetak Atoll, from January 1, 1977, through December 31, 1980
  • Cleanup of the Air Force B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons off the coast of Palomares, Spain, from January 17, 1966, through March 31, 1967
  • Response to the fire onboard an Air Force B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons near Thule Air Force Base in Greenland from January 21, 1968, to September 25, 1968

If you took part in any of these efforts, the VA says it will automatically assume (or “presume”) that you had exposure to radiation.

Screenings and Help for Survivors

The VA will now screen every Veteran for toxic exposures regularly. And if you’re a family member of a Veteran who passed away, the PACT Act opens doors to monthly payments and other support.

Getting Your Benefits and Filing Claims

The most important thing to know is that you can still file a claim for benefits for PACT Act related conditions. If you think you might qualify for benefits under the PACT Act, the VA has simplified the process for filing a claim. You can file a disability claim online, ensuring a quicker and more efficient application process. For those with pending claims or previously denied claims that are now considered presumptive, a Supplemental Claim can be submitted for review.

If you’re not sure how to proceed, that’s ok! The team at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, is here to help. We have walked alongside thousands of Veterans in their fight for benefits, and we don’t take NO for an answer.

The post The PACT Act: What Veterans Need to Know appeared first on Fight 4 Vets.

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