What Benefits Can I Receive From the PACT Act?

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For some veterans, it can be difficult to link their disabilities or injuries to their time in service, even though they were exposed to hazardous conditions, such as burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances. However, with the passing of The Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, veterans exposed to these harmful substances can now directly connect their disabilities sustained through their military service and seek federal benefits.

Let's explore the PACT Act and the benefits veterans can receive.

What is the PACT Act?

The PACT Act (Promoting Access for the Disabled and Veterans) is a federal law that is one of the largest healthcare and benefits expansions in VA history. Signed in August 2022, the PACT Act expands eligibility for veterans whose service exposed them to hazardous substances, including radiation, or the Vietnam or Gulf Wars. The most significant aspect of this benefit expansion involves exposure to Burn Pits while serving in the military.

A burn pit is generally defined as an area devoted to open-air combustion of trash. Many Veterans who served our country were exposed to a number of pollutants in these burn pits, including waste, batteries, excrement, metals, plastics, and other potentially harmful substances when inhaled. As a result of significant pressure from a number of organizations and Veterans, Congress finally acted in 2022 to create a "presumptive list" of Burn Pit conditions and illnesses. If a Veteran served in specific locations over certain time periods, and they have been diagnosed with certain conditions or cancers on the Burn Pit presumptive list, then they would be granted benefits for these conditions without having to prove a 'nexus' connection between their service and their conditions. Since proving a nexus is oftentimes the missing piece to proving a claim for service-connected compensation, the addition of these specific health issues to a Burn Pit presumptive registry has and will help many Veterans obtain the benefits they deserve.

In addition to Burn Pits, Congress also added several conditions to the already existing Agent Orange Presumptive Condition List. Congress also expanded this Agent Orange list to several countries where a Veteran may have served, that were not previously covered under this list.

In addition to expanded eligibility, the PACT Act now entitles veterans to receive a toxic exposure screening at a VA health facility at least once every five years.

What Does The Toxic Exposure Screening Look Like?

The topic exposure screening will be done at a VA health care facility, often when veterans undergo a medical exam for their VA benefits application and to obtain their disability rating.

The screening would ask veterans if they were exposed to any of the following during their military service:

● Open burn pits,

● Agent Orange,

● Radiation,

● or other exposures.

The screening will also ask veterans if they were involved in any of the following operations:

● The Vietnam War,

● The Gulf War,

● or if they were stationed at Camp Lejeune.

What Benefits Are Available As A Result of the PACT Act?

The PACT Act helps veterans receive the benefits they need for their illnesses or injuries. The VA will now be required to recognize the connection between certain conditions and toxic substance exposure, making it easier for some veterans to get the disability rating they deserve.

VA Disability Benefits Compensation

Veterans who were exposed to any of these hazardous substances during service are potentially eligible for compensation through VA Disability Benefits. This can include monthly monetary compensation, medical care, vocational rehabilitation and employment services, educational assistance programs, and more.

Receive Changes to Their Disability Rating

Additionally, the PACT Act can also help Veterans receive changes to their currently existing disability ratings if they were exposed to hazardous substances during military service. This may take the form of a rating increase, or new ratings for new conditions that were not previously service-connected.

Survivors Benefits

The PACT Act also extends its support to surviving family members of veterans who have died due to their exposure to hazardous substances during service. The surviving family members can now obtain benefits related to Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and Death Pension, which includes monetary compensation and access to other benefits.

The PACT Act helps veterans receive the care and resources they need after their exposure to hazardous substances during service, making it easier for them to get the disability ratings they deserve.This includes family members who were previously denied such benefits before the PACT Act was passed. It is an important step in protecting our veterans and ensuring their sacrifices are not forgotten. With the passing of this law, we can now honor our promise to take care of those who have served our country.

Lawyers Serving Georgia's Disabled

Our military puts their lives on the line while serving our country. A worsened or sustained injury or disability can significantly impact their financial stability and their family's lifestyle. At Affleck & Gordon, we are committed to helping disabled veterans receive the benefits they deserve. With over four decades of experience fighting for our military members, our attorneys are proud to assist those who have dedicated their lives to serving our country.

If you or a loved one is having difficulty receiving VA disability benefits and was exposed to toxic substances during their military service, contact our experienced lawyers at {Site:BusinessName by calling our firm at {F:P:Site:Phone} to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

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