2022 PACT Act: Understanding health care eligibility and benefits

The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances. The PACT Act adds to the list of health conditions that we assume (or “presume”) are caused by exposure to these substances. This law helps us provide generations of Veterans—and their survivors—with the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve.

The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. This law helps us provide generations of Veterans—and their survivors—with the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve.

Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022.

While some provisions take effect at different times, VA considers the presumptive conditions established in the PACT Act to be applicable on the date the PACT Act was signed into law (August 10, 2022).

All Veterans and survivors who believe they may be entitled to benefits are encouraged to apply today.

As a general matter, there are several types of possible exposures or hazards Veterans may have experienced during their military service, including:

VA assumes certain diseases or illnesses can be related to a Veteran’s military service. for these conditions.

Veterans and their survivors may be eligible for benefits and health care services

What new or expanded presumptions will the Act create and when will they be in effect?

Veterans and survivors can file claims for all conditions outlined in the PACT Act immediately.

For Vietnam Veterans and other Veterans exposed to tactical herbicides, that includes two Agent Orange presumptive conditions:

VA is considering the presumptive conditions established in the PACT Act to be applicable on the date the bill becomes law.

We encourage all Veterans who believe they may be entitled to benefits to apply now.

If a Veteran was previously denied a claim for any of these conditions, what can they do?

VA will contact Veterans when a presumption of service connection is established or changed. However, Veterans previously denied a toxic-exposure related claim are encouraged to file a supplemental claim.

Once a supplemental claim is received, VA will review the claim under the new law.

What actions should Veterans take who have never filed a claim for one of these conditions?

Will family members or dependents—those who lost a loved one during the re-adjudication process or those who lost a loved one who was previously denied a claim— receive any benefits because of the PACT Act?

Family members or dependents of a deceased Veteran may qualify for various VA benefits due to the  additional disabilities defined in the PACT Act if they meet eligibility requirements. Benefits  available include Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), Accrued, and Burial benefits.

The PACT Act helps advance a top VA priority: getting more Veterans into VA care by expanding eligibility for, and the availability of, health care services for Veterans. The law expands health care eligibility to several groups of Veterans who may not have been eligible before and requires VA to phase in hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care for any illness to three new categories of Veterans.

» CATEGORY 1: Veterans who participated in a toxic exposure risk activity (as defined by law) while serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.

» CATEGORY 2: Veterans who were assigned to a duty station in (including airspace above) certain locations during specific periods of time:

» CATEGORY 3: Veterans who deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, Operation Inherent Resolve, or Resolute Support Mission.

Veterans will be asked questions about potential exposure to an open burn pit or other hazards commonly associated with military environmental exposure. This will help VA identify other potential risks for Veterans and inform future policy decisions.

How will a Gulf War or Post-9/11 Combat Veteran’s eligibility be impacted?

All Veterans are encouraged to apply for VA health care, regardless of separation date.

Veterans who served on active duty in a theater of combat operations during a period of war after the Persian Gulf War or in combat against a hostile force during a period of hostilities after November 11, 1998, and who were discharged or released:

Participation is voluntary and cannot negatively impact VA health care access or compensation and benefits claims. Exposure to specific airborne hazards or having related health concerns is not required to participate in the registry.