VA Expands Health Care Eligibility for Thousands of Veterans Under PACT Act
Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) January 18, 2023 – Thousands of veterans became eligible for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care starting October 1, 2022, under a new law that expands benefits for toxic-exposed former service members. Certain Vietnam War, Gulf War and post-9/11 veterans are among those who can now obtain health care benefits under the PACT Act during a yearlong open enrollment period.
President Biden signed the PACT Act into law on August 10, 2022. The legislation broadens VA health care to veterans who were sickened by environmental exposures such as chemicals and pollution during their military service.
The largest group to gain eligibility for VA health care is post-9/11 veterans who meet certain conditions and did not previously sign up for benefits. They have a one-year window in which to enroll for health care services.
To qualify for care, veterans would need to have engaged in active duty in a theater of combat after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, participated in combat operations against a hostile force post Nov. 11, 1998, or have gotten released or discharged from active duty from Sept. 11, 2001, to Oct. 1, 2013. Some additional groups of Vietnam veterans are also eligible for VA health care if they served in specified locations and time periods.
Attorney David Magann, a Florida veterans’ benefits lawyer, commented, “The expansion of VA health care eligibility will allow many more veterans to obtain the benefits they deserve. Anyone who has difficulty enrolling for VA health care services should contact an experienced attorney who can help them with the process.”
In addition to broadening health care eligibility, the PACT Act has identified 23 illnesses as presumed to be linked to burn-pit exposure in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations. The law has also added hypertension and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance as Agent Orange presumptive conditions for Vietnam veterans.
Veterans who suffer from the identified illnesses can now receive disability benefits faster. They no longer have to go through a lengthy process to prove that their condition is related to their military service. The law also allows former service members to undergo screening for toxic exposures and related health conditions.
VA Secretary Denis McDonough stated that the department has hired more employees to handle health care claims amid the anticipated increase in demand. The VA has received over 70,000 claims since the PACT Act was signed into law.
Veterans can visit VA.gov/PACT to learn more and apply for health care benefits.
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