Officials are urging veterans to apply for benefits under the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (PACT Act) despite experiencing technical issues with online submissions. The PACT Act, signed by President Joe Biden in 2022, offers expanded health care benefits to veterans exposed to toxic substances such as burn pits and Agent Orange. Though there’s no deadline for future claims, applications or “intent to file” by Aug. 9 could make applicants eligible for backdated benefits. The influx of interested applicants has caused technical issues and prolonged wait times, but officials assure that the site is functional and efforts are being made to address the errors.
- The PACT Act aims to provide benefits to veterans exposed to toxic substances during military service, creating presumptive-condition status for various cancers, respiratory illnesses, and other ailments linked to toxic exposure.
- High interest has caused technical problems with online submissions and phone inquiries, with about 18% of individuals receiving an error message on Aug. 8; however, the VA assures that the intent to file has been logged.
- Since the bill was enacted, nearly 786,000 disability claims have been received under the PACT Act, with more than 348,000 approved and over $1.4 billion paid out.
- Advocates and government officials, including President Biden, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, are encouraging applications, noting the lifesaving potential of the benefits.
- Some veterans’ advocates, while applauding the PACT Act, are calling for clarity on tech issues, inclusion of additional illnesses, and expedited processes for diagnosing veterans with various conditions.