The PACT Act is a historic new law that will help VA provide health care and benefits to millions of toxic-exposed Veterans and their survivors. Since President Biden signed the PACT Act into law on August 10th, VA has been hard at work on implementing this landmark bipartisan legislation—and Veterans have already begun to apply for the benefits they’ve earned and deserve.
Here’s an update on what’s happened since August 10th:
Veterans are applying for the PACT Act benefits they deserve: The day after the PACT Act was signed into law (August 11), Veterans set an all-time record for online disability compensation claims filed. Since the PACT Act was signed, Veterans have filed more than 200,000 total claims—an increase of more than 21% over the same period last year. And to date, VA has already received more than 70,000 PACT Act-related claims from Veterans since August 10th.
Thousands of Veterans participated in toxic exposure screening pilot: As a part of the PACT Act, VA will begin providing 5-minute toxic exposure screenings to all Veterans enrolled in VA health care. On September 6, VA began a pilot of this program—screening 13,380 Veterans across 12 medical centers over a 2 week period, and finding a 37.4% concern of exposure among those Veterans. These results will help VA make toxic exposure screenings available to all Veterans in early November, and more importantly, make sure that VA provides all toxic-exposed Veterans with the care they need and the benefits they deserve.
VA expedited the timeline to deliver benefits to Veterans as soon as possible: Instead of phasing-in conditions over the coming years (as outlined in the legislation), the Biden Administration decided to make all conditions in the PACT Act presumptive for benefits as of August 10, the day the bill was signed into law. We will begin processing these benefits on the earliest date possible, which is January 1.
VA will expand health care eligibility in October: On October 1, VA will expand and extend eligibility for VA health care for certain Veterans of the Vietnam War, Gulf Wars, and post-9/11 era. This expansion will increase health care eligibility for hundreds of thousands of toxic-exposed Veterans. More detailed information about this expansion can be found here or on VA.gov/PACT.
Meeting Veterans where they are: Within minutes of the PACT Act passing the Senate, VA launched VA.gov/PACT—a one-stop-shop website where Veterans and their families can learn about the PACT Act and apply for health care or benefits. This website, which is available in English and Spanish, has garnered nearly 2.5 million views to date.
Apply now: VA encourages Veterans and survivors to apply now for the PACT Act-related benefits and care they deserve. All Veterans and survivors can go to VA.gov/PACT or call us at 1-800-MYVA411 to learn more about what this legislation means for them.
PACT Act Data Backgrounder
PACT Act-related claims receipts: Since President Biden signed the PACT Act into law on August 10th, VA has received more than 70,000 PACT Act-related claims. However, VA added Asthma, Sinusitis, and Rhinitis (which are included in the PACT Act) to VA’s list of presumptives in September 2021, so VA has technically received more than 156,000 PACT-related claims if you include pre-August 10 data.
Between September 2021 and September 27, 2022, VA has adjudicated over 40,000 claims for Asthma, Sinusitis, and Rhinitis, delivering more than $121 million in benefits that these Veterans have earned.
Pending PACT Act claims: Including pre-August 10th claims receipts, VA has 116,000 pending claims for presumptive conditions of the PACT Act.
Note on the data: The number of claims filed is based on the current data of PACT Act-eligible Veterans. VA and DoD continue to work to identify these eligible Veterans, including the scanning of paper records from the Vietnam and pre-9/11 timeframes. As paper records are scanned or located, our numbers will likely change.