Even if you are already receiving benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act may allow additional coverage or benefits.
Passed in 2022, the PACT Act and Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 are considered the largest expansions to VA benefits in recent years. They allowed Camp Lejeune veterans exposed to contaminated water on base from 1953 to 1987 and many other veterans exposed to toxic substances to seek compensation and VA benefits.
Of course, this opened up many questions for veterans already receiving benefits or previously denied claims. Read on to learn more about PACT Act benefits and how they work if you already have VA benefits.
How Does the PACT Act Affect Existing VA Benefits?
Veterans already receiving VA benefits for other conditions will not have their benefits changed or reduced under the PACT Act.
Instead, the act aims at expanding already provided benefits. This means that veterans with multiple conditions that are now covered could receive additional compensation.
Some veterans specialists encourage veterans already approved for certain VA benefits to file a PACT Act claim if they have an additional condition covered under the act. This is because, if the condition is terminal, it connects your illness to service and allows spouses or dependents to get compensation after a veteran passes.
What Compensation Is Available Under the PACT Act?
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (a provision of the PACT Act) allowed Camp Lejeune veterans to seek compensation for related illnesses through VA benefits and legal claims.
Some of the conditions eligible for VA benefits include:
- Adult leukemia
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Bladder cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
There are many other health conditions that could be linked to Camp Lejeune water contamination that are not considered presumptive conditions for VA benefits. However, veterans may still have additional compensation options through a Camp Lejeune lawsuit.
Filing a lawsuit under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act will not impact the amount of or eligibility for VA benefits. Additionally, surviving family members who lost a loved one to a Camp Lejeune-related illness are able to file a claim.
How Do You File a PACT Act Claim?
Any Camp Lejeune veteran diagnosed with one or more of the conditions listed above is eligible to file for VA benefits. Additionally, anyone who was harmed by the water at Camp Lejeune is eligible to file a legal claim thanks to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act and PACT Act.
Some tips before filing a claim include:
- Gather as much documentation as possible: Collect military service records to show which toxic exposures you may have been exposed to. Additionally, gather all medical records showing proof of health conditions.
- Talk to a Camp Lejeune lawyer: Filing a PACT Act claim can be challenging, especially if you’re dealing with a severe illness or condition. An experienced lawyer can explain your next steps and help.
What Is the Timeline for Receiving Benefits After a PACT Act Claim?
The timeline for receiving benefits after a claim can vary for each person, but the VA estimates an average of 96 days for claims to be processed.
How long it takes for the VA to process claims depends on the following factors:
- How much evidence needs to be collected
- Illnesses or conditions claimed
- The type of claim
In December 2022, the VA announced it would prioritize benefit claims involving cancer or other terminal diseases.
As of August 2023, over $1.85 million in VA benefits have been delivered to 458,659 veterans who filed PACT Act claims.
There is no end date for filing a claim for presumptive service connection under the PACT Act, but Camp Lejeune veterans and their families interested in filing a Camp Lejeune lawsuit have until August 10, 2024.
Get Trusted Help With Your PACT Act Claim
Filing a PACT Act claim can be tough for veterans and caregivers, especially if veterans are undergoing extensive treatments. While having a lawyer is not required, it can be helpful, especially for Camp Lejeune veterans who can file both VA benefits and legal claims.
Camp Lejeune Claims Center can help connect you with VA-accredited lawyers who have handled more than 30,000 Camp Lejeune claims. They are dedicated to helping people access the compensation they deserve with no out-of-pocket fees.