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VA Medical Benefits Expanded For Toxic Substance Exposure

For veterans who were exposed to toxic substances in the course of duty, there are medical benefits available. The act, named The Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics, or PACT, provides for veterans and their survivors.

Background on what the act allows for

The most important aspect of PACT is that it makes it possible for more veterans to be eligible for medical benefits. That’s because it expands the locations and conditions under the presumptive conditions resulting from toxic substance and burn pit exposure. 

Typically for other medical conditions, a veteran must show that the condition was a direct result of their military service. Under presumptive conditions, however, it’s presumed that the military service caused the medical issue. Therefore, affected veterans must only meet the requirements for when and where they served.

What time periods of service apply?

Under PACT, veterans who served during the Vietnam War, Gulf War and after 9/11 and were exposed to Agent Orange, toxic substances or burn pits now have greater benefit coverage. In order to meet eligibility requirements, you must have served under the covered locations and suffer from one of the types of medical issues or cancers. 

Examples of covered illnesses and cancers

The list of presumptive conditions is expansive but includes medical conditions related to the respiratory system including but not limited to cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pulmonary fibrosis. 

There are also skin-related cancers like melanoma as well as cancer of the kidney, pancreas, brain and other areas. 

For veterans who served during Vietnam in included geographic locations, PACT expanded coverage for Agent-Orange-related exposure includes monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance and high blood pressure. 

How veterans can receive these medical benefits

Once it’s determined that a veteran suffering from a covered illness or cancer served during the covered conflicts and areas, they need to apply for medical benefits. They can apply either online, in person or through the mail. 

It’s also important to note that if you previously applied for medical benefits but had your application denied, under PACT you may now be eligible for these benefits under a supplemental claim application. 

Application timeline under PACT

Veterans and their survivors may apply now for these medical benefits, however, the applications will only be processed after January 2023. Although there is the processing delay, if your claim is approved, benefits will be paid retroactively to the date of the act, August 10th, 2022.