The VA began processing PACT Act-related benefits claims from terminally ill veterans Dec. 12, about three weeks before other claims can be considered.
The move is the department’s latest fast-tracking of benefits connected to the MOAA-supported Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, which the president signed in August. The VA already has enacted some of the bill’s provisions that had been set for a phased-in approach, which would’ve limited the amount of veterans eligible to apply until October 2026.
Addressing the needs of terminally ill veterans before the Jan. 1 start date on benefit claims processing is “the right thing to do to get these heroes the world-class health care and benefits they’ve earned as soon as possible, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a press release announcing the move.
Terminally ill veterans will retain priority in the claims process after Jan. 1, and will be joined at the top of the list by:
- Veterans with cancer
- Homeless veterans, or those facing financial hardship
- Veterans over 85 years old
- Medal of Honor and Purple Heart recipients
“MOAA is grateful for the urgency shown by the VA as this process unfolds,” said Cory Titus, MOAA’s director of Government Relations for Veteran Benefits and Guard/Reserve Affairs. “Winning the legislative fight isn’t enough – we will continue our partnership with other veterans advocates to ensure the VA provides these benefits in a timely and efficient manner to the millions of newly eligible veterans.”
About 2,500 terminally ill veterans could see their claims fast-tracked under the policy, Military Times reported. More than 176,000 veterans already have applied for PACT-Act related benefits, per the VA press release, which included a link to dozens of town halls set for the coming days as part of the department’s PACT Act awareness campaign, which will reach all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
Veterans, families, or caregivers with questions about PACT Act-related benefits or claims can call 1-800-MyVA411 (1-800-698-2411) to speak with a VA representative.
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