The PACT Act makes it easier for veterans to prove their health conditions are connected to their military service. 

    What is the PACT Act?

    The PACT Act of 2022 presumes certain health conditions are service-related and eliminates the need to prove toxic exposure for benefits.

    The law also requires that all enrolled veterans are screened for toxic exposure-related health concerns and requires additional VA staff education and training. As a result, more than 4 million enrolled veterans have already received screenings – an essential step in catching and treating potentially life-threatening health problems as early as possible.

    What are the Presumptive Conditions?

    The PACT Act 2022 expands the list of health conditions presumed to be caused by toxic exposure. A presumptive condition means that the VA doesn’t have to prove your illness was caused by service, but it still must meet other qualifications such as diagnosis, treatment history, etc.

    Currently, 23 burn pit and toxic exposure-related conditions are presumed to have been caused by service. This includes a variety of cancers, respiratory conditions like asthma (if not diagnosed before discharge), and autoimmune diseases such as fibromyalgia, chronic sinusitis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and sarcoidosis.

    The bill also expands the number of locations where veterans can be exposed to Agent Orange, strengthens federal research on toxic exposure, and improves the VA’s resources and training for this new group of veterans. It also provides additional benefits to those who have already received disability compensation and meet specific criteria. This will include a higher rate of pay and the option for additional medical care.

    What are the Preparatory Acts?

    The PACT Act is a sweeping new law that benefits veterans exposed to toxic fumes and chemicals from burn pits, contaminated water at Marine Corps bases in North Carolina, and the Vietnam-era chemical defoliant Agent Orange. It presumptively awards benefits for these conditions to veterans who meet specific criteria, eliminating the need for lengthy and time-consuming paperwork and exams.

    The law also requires the VA to conduct studies that will add to the knowledge about how toxic exposures impact a person’s health. It also calls for a working group to create a five-year strategic plan for further research into these toxic exposures.

    It also gives veterans enrolled in VA health care a 5-minute toxic exposure screening. This is a crucial step to ensure veterans receive high-quality, timely health care related to their potential toxic exposures. It will help the VA understand the scope of health concerns that must be addressed and allow them to deliver the best care possible to our veterans.

    What is the VA’s Duty to Assist?

    It’s been one year since President Biden signed the PACT Act, or Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Exposure, into law. This historic legislation greatly expands healthcare and benefits for veterans who may have been exposed to toxic chemicals, smoke, and other dangerous materials in their service.

    The VA’s Duty to Assist requires them to make a reasonable effort to obtain records and other evidence that will substantiate your claim. This includes reasonably attempting to obtain private medical records and other evidence from State or local agencies, current or former employers, and your medical providers.

    However, the Duty to Assist only applies to initial and supplemental claims and does not apply to a Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) review or appeals. Suppose a higher-level reviewer or BVA judge finds that the Regional Office failed to comply with its duty to assist during your original or supplemental claim. In that case, they can remand it for additional consideration.


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