The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 is the largest expansion of veteran health care and benefits in generations. Let’s answer some questions MOAA has received on this important new law.
[BACKDATED BENEFITS DEADLINE EXTENDED: Apply by Aug. 14]
Q. I keep hearing about a PACT Act deadline. Why?
A. If a veteran files a PACT Act-related claim on or before the deadline, even if the claim isn't adjudicated by the deadline, the claim award date reverts to the date the act was signed – Aug. 10, 2022 – under “intent to file” (ITF) rules. This could potentially mean a significant retroactive payment for the veteran.
[RELATED: More on the PACT Act Deadline]
Q. What are “intent to file” rules?
A. When a veteran either submits an ITF (via VA Form 21-0966) or goes online to start an original (first), supplemental claim, or a claim for increase, that signals to the VA that the veteran intends to file a claim. If the completed claim is submitted to the VA within one year of any of those actions, the claim award date reverts to the ITF date.
Q. The PACT Act added hypertension to the list of Agent Orange presumptive diseases. But I hear the VA always gives a non-compensable, or 0%, rating. Why bother submitting a claim?
A. The rating schedule diagnostic code for hypertension didn’t change after its addition to the Agent Orange presumptive list. Rating officials will still give a non-compensable/0% rating if medication keeps your blood pressure within normal levels. However, it is still important to submit a claim if you have service-connected hypertension. We know that hypertension can lead to heart disease – if that happens, your heart disease may be service-connected as a secondary condition.
[FROM MILITARY.COM: VA Plans Events Across the Country to Help with Filing Toxic Exposure Claims]
Q. If a veteran passed away from a PACT Act-related presumptive disease before the act was signed, is the surviving spouse eligible to submit a Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) claim?
A. Yes, that surviving spouse is eligible for DIC. If your spouse was receiving VA disability compensation, the only new evidence required would be medical records diagnosing a new PACT Act-related disease and a death certificate. If your spouse had not previously submitted a VA disability compensation claim, you would also need full service medical records and personal medical records since separating/retiring from service. A veterans service organization (VSO) can assist with retrieving medical records from the National Archives.
Q. Where can I get more information on filing a VA claim?
A. This VA webpage contains information on how to prepare a claim, what evidence is needed to support your claim, how to file a claim, and what happens after the claim is submitted. VA.gov/PACT has much of the same information, but is PACT Act-focused.
When dealing with the VA, MOAA always recommends using a VSO, which provide claim and appeal services free of charge. You are under no obligation to join their group, although they are allowed to ask if you care to join.
[RELATED: Search for an Accredited VSO Near You]
Most states also participate in the County VSO (CVSO) program; to find a CVSO, visit your state’s Department of Veteran Services website.
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