How Does the PACT Act Help Veterans?
The PACT Act expands eligibility for Veterans Administration (VA) health care and disability benefits for Veterans with toxic exposures and Veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras:
- VA Health Care: eligibility for free VA Health Care depends on your service history and other factors
- VA Disability Benefits: provides tax-free monthly cash payments, if you have a service-connected condition. A service-connected condition means an illness or injury that was caused by—or got worse because of—your active military service. For more information about disability benefits: www.va.gov/disability/eligibility.
Under the PACT Act, if a Veteran’s active military service meets certain requirements (based on location and time of service), then certain cancers and other illnesses are considered “presumptive conditions.” This means that Veterans do not need to prove that their military service actually caused their medical condition to get a VA disability rating.
A VA disability rating (0-100%) determines what kinds of benefits you may receive as a Veteran:
- Veterans with a 20% rating are eligible for no-cost health care and prescriptions for service-connected disabilities
- Veterans with a 50% rating are eligible for no-cost health care and prescription medications for all conditions
Gulf War and Post-9/11 Veterans
It will be presumed that you were exposed to toxic burn pits, if you served:
- On or after 8/2/90, in any of these locations or in the airspace above these locations: Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, United Arab Emirates
- On or after 9/11/01, in any of these locations or in the airspace above these locations: Afghanistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Uzbekistan, Yemen
The presumptive diseases associated with burn pit exposure are:
- Cancers: brain cancer, gastrointestinal cancer of any type, glioblastoma, head cancer of any type, kidney cancer, lymphoma of any type, melanoma, neck cancer of any type, pancreatic cancer, reproductive cancer of any type, respiratory (breathing-related) cancer of any type
- Other Illnesses: asthma that was diagnosed after service, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic rhinitis, chronic sinusitis, constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis, emphysema, granulomatous disease, interstitial lung disease (ILD), pleuritis, pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis
Veterans Exposed to Radiation
It will be presumed that you were exposed to radiation, if you served in any of these locations:
- Cleanup of Enewetak Atoll, from 1/1/77, through 12/31/80
- Cleanup of the Air Force B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons off the coast of Palomares, Spain, from 1/17/66, through 3/31/67
- Response to the fire onboard an Air Force B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons near Thule Air Force Base in Greenland from 1/21/68, to 9/25/68
The PACT Act added five new locations to the list of presumptive exposures to Agent Orange:
- Any U.S. or Royal Thai military base in Thailand from 1/9/62, through 6/30/76
- Laos from 12/1/65, through 9/30/69
- Cambodia at Mimot or Krek, Kampong Cham Province from 4/16/69, through 4/30/69
- Guam or American Samoa or in the territorial waters off Guam or American Samoa from 1/9/62, through 7/30/80
- Johnston Atoll or on a ship that called at Johnston Atoll from 1/1/72, through 9/30/77
The PACT Act also added two new presumptive conditions tied to agent orange exposure:
- High blood pressure (also called hypertension)
- Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
You may also be eligible for disability compensation based on other Agent Orange presumptive conditions, such as these cancers: bladder cancer, chronic B-cell leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prostate cancer, respiratory cancers (including lung cancer), and some soft tissue sarcomas.
To view the full list of service locations and presumptive conditions caused by Agent Orange exposure, visit: www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/agent-orange/#full-eligibility-requirements.
How to File a Claim for Benefits
Veterans can file for PACT Act benefits online:
Veterans can also call the VA at 800-698-2411 (TTY: 711) or file by mail, in person, or with the help of a trained, accredited representative. To find an accredited representative: www.va.gov/disability/get-help-filing-claim.
If the VA denied your disability claim in the past, but now considers your condition presumptive, you can submit a Supplemental Claim. The VA will review your case again.
To learn about what happens after you file a claim and the current timeframe it is taking the VA to review claims, visit: www.va.gov/disability/after-you-file-claim.
Other PACT Act Benefits
The PACT Act also requires the VA to provide toxic exposure screenings to every Veteran enrolled in VA health care.
If you are a surviving family member of a Veteran, you may be eligible for these PACT Act benefits:
For more information about resources for Veterans, visit TriageCancer.org/Military-Veterans-Cancer