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The Pact Act: Extending Care and Benefits to Veterans

The PACT Act grants permanent Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare eligibility upon 3.5 million post-9/11 veterans. Furthermore, it introduces over 20 new presumptive service-connected illnesses associated with exposure to burn pits and other toxic substances for veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and nearby regions. The PACT Act also added new presumptive conditions and locations for Vietnam Era Veterans. Signed into law in August of 2022, the PACT Act marks the most extensive expansion of benefits for veterans and their survivors in decades. 

The PACT Act introduces the following changes: 

  • Widens and prolongs eligibility for VA health care, encompassing Veterans with toxic exposures as well as Veterans from the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 periods. 
  • Includes over 20 additional presumptive conditions related to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic exposures. 
  • Expands the list of presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation. 
  • Mandates that VA offers a toxic exposure screening to every Veteran enrolled in VA health care. 
  • Facilitates enhancements in research, staff education, and treatment concerning toxic exposures. 

If you’re a Veteran or survivor, Chad Barr Law can file claims now to apply for PACT Act-related benefits. 

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History of the PACT Act

The PACT Act, representing a monumental shift in veterans’ healthcare and benefits, was signed into law in August of 2022 by the President of the United States. This momentous occasion marked the culmination of extensive legislative efforts aimed at addressing the pressing needs of veterans affected by toxic exposures during their military service.  

The PACT Act, officially titled The Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, signifies a significant milestone in the history of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Heath Robinson’s personal journey highlights the profound impact of war, as he bravely faced the detrimental effects of toxic exposure during his service. Embedded within the act’s name is a dedication to comprehensive action, demonstrating a solemn vow to confront the wide-ranging toxic hazards encountered by veterans. This commitment stands as a tribute to the enduring legacy of Heath Robinson and all those who have served their nation with valor. 

What Are Burn Pits

Burn pits are large open-air pits used by the military to dispose of various types of waste generated on military bases, including trash, medical waste, chemicals, and other materials. These pits are typically ignited and left to burn, creating plumes of smoke that can contain hazardous substances. Soldiers stationed near these burn pits were exposed to the smoke and airborne particles, potentially leading to health issues. Burn pits have been used extensively in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other military bases in Southwest Asia. 

PACT Act Eligibility

  • Veterans who served in the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, parts of Southwest Asia, or any other combat zone after 9/11. 
  • Veterans deployed in support of the Global War on Terror. 
  • Veterans exposed to toxins or other hazards during military service at home or abroad. 

Newly added radiation exposure presumptive locations: 

  • 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 

With a broad range of locations and time periods, and new presumptions continually being added, you may be eligible for the PACT Act. Call Chad Barr Law at 888-2-VETLAW or get your case evaluated by an experienced attorney at Chad Barr Law today. 

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What Does it Mean to Have a Presumptive Condition?

To receive a VA disability rating, your disability must be linked to your military service. For some conditions, the VA automatically assumes, or “presumes,” that your military service caused the medical condition. These are known as “presumptive conditions.” A condition is deemed presumptive when it’s recognized by law or regulation. 

PACT Act Presumptive Conditions List

Gulf War and post-9/11 Presumptive Cancers:  

  • 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 

Gulf War and post-9/11 Presumptive illnesses: 

  • 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 

 

Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions: 

  • Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
  • Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) 

If you have a presumptive condition, you don’t need to prove that your service caused the condition. You only need to meet the service requirements for the presumption. 

Can I still file for PACT Act benefits?

Yes. If you’re a Veteran or survivor, PACT Act benefits are still available to you.  

Can survivors of Veterans receive compensation payments under the PACT Act? 

Yes, they can. If you’re a surviving family member of a Veteran, you may qualify for the following benefits: 

  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) payments: Eligibility applies if you’re the surviving spouse, dependent child, or parent of a Veteran who passed away due to a service-connected disability.  
  • One-time accrued benefits payment: You may be eligible if you’re the surviving spouse, dependent child, or dependent parent of a Veteran who had unpaid benefits owed at the time of their death.  
  • Survivors Pension: Eligibility applies if you’re the surviving spouse or child of a Veteran with wartime service. 

Don’t Go It Alone!

With all the complexities of the PACT Act, let experienced Veteran Disability Attorneys help you with your claim. Call Chad Barr Law at 888-2-VETLAW or get your case evaluated by an experienced attorney at Chad Barr Law today. 

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