(Updated Sept. 28 to include new VA fact sheets)
The Aug. 10 signing of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promises to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 ended a long legislative fight for earned benefits, but signaled the beginning of another, sometimes-complex process – ensuring those benefits get to the millions of veterans who’ve earned them.
[RELATED: ‘Tens of Thousands’ More Veterans Will Be Eligible for VA Care Starting Oct. 1]
MOAA and the dozens of veterans advocacy groups supporting this legislation won’t stop with the PACT Act’s passage – the coming months will be critical as the VA interprets the law and begins setting up the required benefit programs, staff and facility expansions, and much more.
Many veterans and families may be unsure whether the act covers their particular service or health situation. The following resources may help answer that question; check back at this link for updates as more materials become available.
[VA PACT ACT FACT SHEETS (PDF): VA Health Care Eligibility | Understanding Eligibility and Benefits | Gulf War and Post-9/11 Veterans]
VA.gov/PACT should serve as your first stop for detailed information on the law’s benefits. This VA website includes:
- Answers to eligibility questions for Vietnam-era, Gulf War, and Post-9/11 veterans.
- Information on the VA claims process, including links to file a disability claim or apply for VA health care online.
- Details on new Agent Orange presumptive conditions and presumptive locations.
- Materials for survivors who may be eligible for compensation payments.
Veterans and survivors also can call the VA at (800) 698-2411 for more information, or download this PDF for answers to some frequently asked questions. The VA is encouraging all veterans and survivors to apply for their benefits immediately.
The PACT Act included several pieces of existing legislation as part of its goal of comprehensive toxic exposure reform. One of those bills, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, allows those exposed to contaminated water for at least 30 days at the North Carolina base between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987, to sue for damages in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
The VA already provides disability benefits to veterans who served at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., who suffer from certain diseases. The PACT Act does not represent an expansion of these benefits, and, as the Veterans of Foreign Wars points out on its website, “veterans who participate in the lawsuits may stand to forfeit other service-connected benefits from Camp Lejeune toxic exposure and other qualifying military service.”
Veterans aren’t the only one’s affected by the law: Anyone “who resided, worked, or was otherwise exposed (including in utero exposure) for not less than 30 days” during the above time period “may bring an action … to obtain appropriate relief for harm that was caused by an exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune,” the law states.
Still have questions? Check out these materials from the VA and other reliable outlets.
- A VA fact sheet (PDF download) on survivor benefits connected to the PACT Act.
- Full text of the PACT Act (S. 3373).
- A MOAA Q-and-A detailing the basic benefits of the act and its path through Congress.
- Benefits breakdowns from MOAA’s content partners at Military Times and Military.com.
- More from the VA about airborne hazards and burn pit exposure, including a full list of presumptive conditions.
A Note on Scams
As with any increase in available benefits, expect a similar increase in fraud attempts – individuals offering false promises of VA compensation in exchange for personal identification, or encouraging veterans to file inaccurate claims, or charging fees for services or records requests that should be free of charge.
[RELATED: How Scammers Are Targeting Veterans Eligible for New PACT Act Benefits]
MOAA has been active in educating its members on these and similar scam attempts; check out our three-part series on financial scams, as well as tips to avoid veteran-related scams that cost the military community more than $100 million last year.
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