News: VA Urging Veterans to Submit Their Claims Quickly!

The Department of Veterans Affairs says that they have now received 113,000 claims under a new law that expands eligibility for health care and benefits to Veterans that were sadly exposed to burn pits and other toxins. 

The VA (Veterans Affairs) said that 112,949 claims by Veterans have been submitted as of Saturday, October 22nd. 

The new law, the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022, or the PACT Act, was signed into law by President Biden this past August. 

The VA is urging Veterans to submit their claims quickly, and more so, before August. “We want to make sure Veterans know about it and take full advantage of the benefits they’ve earned,” said Joshua Jacobs, the VA’s Senior Adviser for Policy, and the acting Veterans Benefits Administration undersecretary. 

After August 10th, 2023, the PACT Act service-connection benefits will begin when filed. 

The PACT Act aims to provide an easier path to health care and benefits for those Veterans who served near open-air burn pits, which were used all throughout the 1990’s and the post-9/11 wars to burn the likes of garbage, jet fuel, and various other materials. 

Veterans who were sadly diagnosed with cancer, respiratory issues and lung disease at young ages have routinely blamed their exposure to these toxic fumes, but for years, the VA contended that there was not enough sufficient evidence to support any of their claims. 

Furthermore, the new law works to also expand health care eligibility to post-9/11 combat Veterans, and it adds in 23 conditions that are related to burn pits and other toxic exposures to the VA’s list of service presumptions. 

That expanded list includes presumptions that are related to Agent Orange exposure in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa and Johnston Atoll. It also works to strengthen federal research on toxic exposure and improves the VA’s resources and training. 

Moreover, the new law also works to improve the VA’s workforce and its claims processing to help speed up efforts to meet demands, establishing 31 new VA health care facilities in 19 states. 

This past August, the VA declared that all 23 health conditions that are outlined in the PACT Act are now “presumptive” from the date the bill was signed, reducing the burden on Veterans or their survivors to prove that certain diseased were caused by service-related exposure. 

“It would make it harder for us to do the work that we need to for other Veterans and it would be, most importantly, very frustrating for Veterans who had to wait,” said Jacobs. 

VA Secretary Denis McDonough said that the VA will begin toxic screenings on November 8th, 2022, for all Veterans now enrolled in the VA’s system. 

McDonough also said that more than 15,000 Veterans have been screened for toxic exposure at seven different VA sites so far. 

“The best thing for Veterans to do is to be in touch with their primary care provider and make sure that they’re getting in to be seen, and in the process of being seen, that they can make sure that they get this toxic exposure screening,” McDonough said. 

PACT Act, Veterans
The Department of Veterans Affairs said that 112,949 claims by Veterans have been submitted since October 22nd. 

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