The new Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee says his number one priority is to insure that the VA is not overwhelmed by new claims and new patients at VA health clinics and hospitals which are coming into the system due to the passage of the PACT Act. The Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act is historic legislation which supports millions of U.S. Veterans. The sweeping new measure signed into law last August extends eligibility for medical benefits to an estimated five million U.S. Veterans sickened by exposure to toxic materials during their military service in the Gulf War, post 9/11, and Vietnam War eras. It expands VA benefits for three generations of Veterans harmed by certain toxic exposures including burn pits, Agent Orange, and radiation.
Representative Mike Bost (R-Ill) told Military.com in an interview that “he sees no signs yet that the VA is being overwhelmed, noting that the law, known as the PACT Act, also gave the department the funding and flexibility to hire more claims processors and medical staff. But he added that it will be important for Congress to stay on top of the issue as the implementation progresses.” The department has hired about 2,000 new claims processors and is using an automated system to process some claims. As of January 1, 2023 the VA had received 213,000 PACT Act related claims for benefits. VA Secretary Denis McDonough says the VA has already processed nearly 40,000 claims, approving nearly 85% of them. The VA is prioritizing the claims of Veterans with cancer to make sure they get timely access to the care and benefits they need.
Bost also said he plans to focus on "bringing the VA—maybe kicking and screaming—into the 21st century," including updating technology and infrastructure.
If you served during the Gulf War, post 9/11, or Vietnam War eras and are dealing with a serious health issue which you believe was caused by exposure to toxic materials, you will want to file a PACT Act claim and do it right away, because as of January 1, 2023 the VA has received 213,000 PACT Act related claims for benefits and there still will likely be a backlog. The sooner you submit your claim, the better. If you apply for benefits before August 10, 2023 (the one year anniversary of the signing of the Act), and your application is granted, you will receive benefits backdated to the date of the bill signing: August 10, 2022.
But before you file get your free copy of our book Expanding Your VA Benefits: The Veteran’s Complete Guidebook for the PACT Act. You can get this comprehensive guide to your rights and benefits under the PACT Act through this link: cuddiganlaw.com/reports. The guidebook is free and we also can offer you a free personal evaluation of your disability case, just contact us at Cuddigan Law.