What Does The PACT Act Mean For Veterans?
Any veteran that served on a deployment is almost always familiar with that constant, lingering odor in the air when their boots hit the ground in country— burn pits. For the longest time, Congress failed to recognize the residual negative health effects caused from smoke inhalation during a tour (or several at that!). Fortunately, a bill called the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act was signed into law on August 10, 2022 that seeks to rectify this disparity along with other toxic exposures for veterans whom have served and those who will serve in hazardous environments.
What is the PACT Act of 2022?
The PACT Act of 2022, or Sergeant First Class Health Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022, was inspired by an Ohio National Guard Soldier that passed away in 2020 due to toxic exposure during his deployments to Kosovo and Iraq.
This bill pledges to expand the healthcare and benefits available to veterans suffering exposure to toxic substances while serving their country. While the most common form of toxic exposure during deployment is burn pits, the PACT Act encompasses any known possible toxic substance exposure based on time and location of service. Furthermore, these conditions for a VA disability claim is presumptive, which means there could be many unknown variables that the Veterans Affairs administration could use to deny veterans from receiving benefits for qualifying medical conditions.
What is the difference between presumptive and non-presumptive conditions when filing a VA claim?
In regards to filing a VA disability claim, a veteran is not required to provide proof that their service caused their medical condition when federal law
dictates that it is a presumptive condition. However, a presumptive condition must meet certain qualifications in order to qualify as service related. For example, if a Marine was deployed to Iraq any time after 2001 and that Marine later develops asthma then they might fit within the qualifications of a presumptive condition covered under the PACT Act of 2022.
With a presumptive condition the burden of proof lies in the hands of the VA to disprove that the medical condition is not service-related. Although it might appear to be a clean cut process, it really is the VA’s top priority to ensure they are awarding entitlements appropriately which means they could fault otherwise entitled veterans on technicalities.
On the other hand, a non-presumptive condition places the burden of proof on the veteran. This means that the veteran must provide as much documentation to substantiate their VA disability claim. Sometimes this is the better route because it allows the veteran a fighting chance to stack up their evidence vs placing the work and sole determination in the hands of the VA with a presumptive condition claim.
How does the PACT Act make it easier to claim VA disability?
Ideally, a presumptive condition that falls under the PACT Act should be easier to claim VA disability based on the term a veteran has served, the location in which they served, the severity of the medical ailment that they developed as a result of their service along with the amount of time they endured it.
According to the White House FACT SHEET, this bill “removes the need for certain veterans and their survivors to prove service connection if they are diagnosed with one of 23 specific conditions.” If this is true in practice, it will greatly reduce the amount of office visits, medical exams, and paperwork for veterans that are usually required to prove that a medical ailment is service-related.
What does the PACT Act do for veterans?
The PACT Act validates the medical conditions that veterans live with for years and perhaps even decades. The medical community is aware that poor air quality has a direct link to respiratory issues and inhaling toxic fumes day-in-and-day-out can be even more detrimental to a person’s health. The PACT Act allows veterans to receive the healthcare and disability compensation that they are entitled to based on their term of service.
The Veterans Affairs website gives a detailed list of conditions related to the PACT Act. On top of adding more than 20 conditions for burn pit and toxic exposure locations, this bill has expanded the locations for Agent Orange and radiation exposure while also extending VA benefits not only to veterans but their survivors. It also allows medical professionals to collect data, track medical progress, and improve treatment plans for veterans that require care for conditions under the PACT Act.
When can you file a VA disability claim for the PACT Act?
Veterans are encouraged to file VA disability claims for presumptive conditions listed under the PACT Act as soon as possible. However, claims will not be addressed until January of 2023 when Congress determines the budget for funding the anticipated influx of toxic exposure claims. With that being said, veterans will receive back-pay for claims that get approved even if they file as early as today. Veterans must have a diagnosis and proof of service in the affected areas as determined by the PACT Act.
Is it hard to get a VA claim approved?
It’s important to understand how the VA disability claim process works in order to be successful. A veteran is in for a potentially frustrating experience if they don’t know how to fill out the paperwork, navigate the intricacies, or understand the terminology when filing a claim.
We have been helping veterans since 2019. Our strategies help veterans win the rating they have been seeking for years. Strategy is one of the key components to winning your claim. The Blue Cord Patriots are offering this to all veterans when they visit our website for the first time. Follow this link to schedule your free strategy session so we may assist you with filing your VA claim. Receive a free strategy session to assist you in your VA claim