The PACT act is a new bill that was recently signed into law in the summer of 2022 that may just be the largest expansion of benefits and services for veterans exposed to toxins in over 30 years. PACT stands for Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins, but what does the PACT act mean for veterans seeking benefits? One of the biggest expansions covered in this bill revolves around exposure to burn pits.
How Exposure to Burn Pits May Qualify Your Condition for VA Benefits
In the course of military activities, many overseas U.S. military bases have employed the use of burn pits to dispose of waste including not just trash but also munitions, hazardous materials, and more. Though the practice of using these burn pits has largely diminished in recent years with the military using them only when absolutely necessary, exposure to the widespread use of these burn pits in previous decades is believed to be the cause behind many illnesses.
Before the PACT act, it has been estimated that about 75% of VA claims related to illnesses caused by burn pits were denied. The PACT act is set to change that by making many of those burn pits-related illnesses presumptive.
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What is a Presumptive Illness?
When you receive a disability rating, your disability has to be connected with your military service. For most illnesses, you have to prove that your disability is related, which can be easy for some disabilities and hard for others.
A presumptive illness or condition is one where the connection to your service can be automatically assumed. Instead of proving your case, you just have to prove your illness or disability and that you meet the service requirements for the presumption.
Read More: Can You Collect SSDI and VA Disability Benefits?
Presumptive Conditions Related to Burn Pits
There are two major categories for presumptive illnesses under the PACT act. They include cancers and illnesses, and we’ve listed them below:
- Brain cancer
- Gastrointestinal cancer
- Head cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Lymphatic cancer
- Neck cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Reproductive cancer
- Respiratory cancer
- Asthma diagnosed after service
- Chronic bronchitis
- Chronic rhinitis
- Chronic sinusitis
- Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
- Granulomatous disease
- Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
- Pulmonary fibrosis
How to Know If You’ve Had Presumptive Exposure to Burn Pits
As we said before, you have to show that you meet the service requirements for the presumptive condition. Based on the known usage of burn pits, the PACT act has specifically included several areas of service. If your service took you to any of these locations after the specified dates, including the airspace above these locations, then you meet the service requirements.
On or after August 2, 1990:
- Saudi Arabia
- The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
On or after September 11, 2001
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Get Legal Help Applying for Burn Pit VA Benefits
Tabak Law has years of experience helping veterans get the benefits that they need. As always, when a new bill passes, it can be difficult for people to navigate the new laws especially since there is not a lot of information out there yet. Not only are we here to provide information, even with this blog, but we can also help you through the application process. Feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation today!
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