VA will begin processing PACT Act claims January 1, 2023, The PACT Act is the most significant expansion of Veteran benefits and care in more than three decades, empowering VA to help millions of toxic-exposed Veterans and their survivors. More than 213,000 PACT Act-related claims for benefits have been submitted. Additionally, more than 959,000 Veterans have received VA’s new toxic exposure screenings, with nearly 39% reporting a concern of exposure. The VA said the priority has been getting Veterans the benefits they deserve as quickly as possible. VA sped up the timeline for many Veterans to get their PACT Act benefits by several years by deciding not to phase in PACT Act benefits through 2026, as written into the legislation, but instead make all new PACT Act presumptions of exposure and service connection applicable August 10. 2022. January 1 is the earliest date that VA will have both the authority and capability necessary to fully process all PACT Act claims. To prepare for the influx of PACT Act claims, the Veterans Benefits Administration has been aggressively hiring and training Veterans service representatives, rating Veterans service representatives and legal administrative specialists around the nation. Over the past two years, VA has hired more than 2700 individuals to help process Veteran claims. As a result of these efforts, VA is processing Veteran benefits claims at the fastest rate in VA history: in 2022, VA completed more than 1.7 million VA disability and pension claims for Veterans, an all-time VA record that broke the previous year’s record by 12%. While VA did not have the capabilities to begin fully processing PACT Act claims for all Veterans until January 1, 2023, the VA was able to expedite processing for terminally ill Veterans beginning December 12th. The VA continues to prioritize processing claims for terminally ill Veterans, Veterans with toxic exposure-related cancers, Veterans experiencing homelessness, Veterans older than 85 years old, Veterans experiencing financial hardship, and Medal of Honor and Purple Heart recipients. In most cases, if a Veteran files a claim within the first year after the bill was signed, the effective date for benefits will be August 10, 2022.
We work to help veterans and their family understand aspects of their claim on toxic exposures in the combat operations that started on August 2, 1990. These claims fall under different sections of Title 38 Code of Federal Regulation (38 CFR) :
§ 3.317 Compensation for certain disabilities occurring in Persian Gulf veterans.
§ 3.318 Presumptive service connection for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
§ 3.320 Claims based on exposure to fine particulate matter.
The PACT Act that was signed into law on August 10, 2022, will soon change some of parts in 38 CFR. As of this date 5-1-2023, we have not seen the changes based on the changes in the laws as found and the U.S. Code at the above regulations is based on. See the following Title 38 U.S. Code.
38 U.S. Code §1117. Compensation for disabilities occurring in Persian Gulf War veterans dated after Aug. 10, 2022, 136 Stat. 1783.
Also 38 U.S. Code § 1118 – Presumptions of service connection for illnesses associated with service in the Persian Gulf during the Persian Gulf War.
38 U.S. Code § 1119 – Presumptions of toxic exposure.
38 U.S. Code § 1120 – Presumption of service connection for certain diseases associated with exposure to burn pits and other toxins.
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