WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee – today recognized the one-year anniversary of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act being signed into law.
Yesterday, the VA made the decision to extend the deadline to apply for backdated PACT Act benefits until midnight on August 14, after veterans reported technical difficulties applying for benefits through the VA’s website.
“The PACT Act was signed into law one year ago, and I’m pleased thousands of Kansas veterans who were exposed to harmful toxins during their military service have applied for and been awarded disability benefits following the passage of this law and are newly eligible to receive needed health care services from VA,” said Sen. Moran. “The PACT Act transformed how the VA provides health care and benefits to toxic-exposed veterans and conducts research on the effects of toxic exposure. While I recognize implementing the PACT Act is a monumental task, I have concerns that VA has not adequately tracked how many veterans are enrolling in the VA health care system and believe that the VA can do a better job at informing veterans about the opportunity to enroll. I also remain concerned about the backlog of benefits claims and the time needed to hire and train employees to correctly process claims so that veterans and survivors are not waiting for benefits for months on end or receive inaccurate decisions that leave them waiting for years in the appeals process.”
“I will continue to work with my colleagues on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs to make certain the PACT Act is implemented the way Congress intended and that all generations of toxic-exposed veterans receive the care and benefits they have earned,” continued Sen. Moran.
Last year, Sen. Moran introduced the PACT Act to deliver all generations of toxic-exposed veterans their earned health care and benefits under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the first time in the nation’s history.
Veterans seeking to apply for benefits under the PACT Act can find more information here.
Since the PACT Act was signed into law a year ago, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has received more than 843,000 PACT Act-related claims. Although more than 113,000 veterans who served in locations covered by the PACT Act have enrolled in VA health care, VA is still unable to track how many of those enrolled using one of the new eligibility criteria provided under the PACT Act or if they enrolled under a previously existing eligibility criteria. Enhanced eligibility for VA health care ends on September 30, 2023, for post-9/11 combat veterans who separated from the military more than 10 years ago. More than 4.1 million veterans have been screened for toxic exposure-related health conditions since November 2022.