In what was described as one of the largest benefit expansions in the history of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the PACT Act is estimated to provide additional benefits and health services to over 5 million veterans.
The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, named after a decorated combat medic who died from a rare form of lung cancer, addresses veterans with toxic exposures from the Vietnam, Gulf War and post-9/11 eras.
Since it was signed into law in August 2022, the VA has conducted over 4.5 million toxic exposure screenings and approved more than 400,000 benefits claims at a 78 percent approval rate, according to the VA’s PACT Act performance dashboard.
What does the PACT Act provide?
- 20 more illnesses are now considered presumptive conditions for burn pit and other toxic exposures, meaning veterans will not have to prove that their service caused their condition. This reduces the paperwork required and the need for a disability exam before being granted access to health care and compensation. The list includes 11 respiratory-related conditions and several forms of cancer. Survivors of veterans who died due to one of these conditions may also be eligible for benefits.
- Additional presumptive exposure locations for Vietnam era veterans
- The enrollment period to join VA health care expanded. Post-9/11 combat veterans may enroll within 10 years of their discharge date instead of five. For other veterans, a one-year open enrollment period is made to join VA health care without having to demonstrate a service-connected disability.
- VA will provide a toxic exposure screening to every veteran enrolled in VA health care.
- Improvements to research, staff education, outreach and treatment related to toxic exposures