PACT Act Second Chance for Survivors Previously Denied VA Claims
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers a second chance to surviving family members of veterans who died from PACT Act illnesses. This opportunity to appeal a previously denied VA claim is offered to those denied by the VA in the past and may qualify for additional consideration under PACT Act guidelines.
What is the PACT Act?
This legislation created new “presumptive conditions” for troops exposed to toxic operations such as burn pits. The Act also expanded qualifying guidelines for Agent Orange and radiation.
The PACT Act requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct toxic exposure screenings for all veterans enrolling in VA healthcare.
What the PACT Act Does
The VA now automatically approves ratings for some 24 conditions, presuming they are service-connected. The PACT Act has affected millions of troops exposed to toxic substances, radiation, and other hazards while serving since the 1960s.
- The PACT Act expands eligibility for VA health care for Veterans with toxic exposures from service in places like Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.
- The Act adds more presumptive conditions for burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic exposures
- The PACT Act included more presumptive-exposure locations and service eras
- The VA must provide a toxic exposure screening all VA healthcare enrollees
All veterans and survivors may file claims with the VA for PACT Act benefits; the Act also created the ability for the VA to reevaluate past denied claims related to the presumptive conditions listed in the legislation.
Surviving family members who may have been denied those benefits now have a second chance to apply for VA benefits such as Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.
Read more: The PACT Act and Your VA Benefits
Who Qualifies For A Second Chance for PACT Act-Related Claims?
- Surviving family members who have a loved one pass away from a PACT Act-related condition.
- Those who the VA previously denied DIC benefits for, when associated with a PACT Act-related condition,
- Survivors of those who the VA owed money or benefits they never received.
How To Apply For PACT Act Benefits
The Department of Veterans Affairs official site instructs those who have never filed a claim before to file one now. If you have not filed a claim for a presumptive condition, file for VA disability compensation online.
If you applied for benefits previously but were denied, file a supplemental claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA promises to review your claim again in light of the PACT Act and the new benefits you may be entitled to due to the act’s passage.
When preparing for your PACT Act claim, whether initial or supplemental, you will need to gather evidence to support your claim.
The Department of Veterans Affairs official site reminds veterans, “We can help you gather evidence from a VA medical center, other federal facility, or your private health care provider.”
If you need to submit evidence from a private or non-VA provider, complete VA Form 21-4142 and include it with your Supplemental Claim form, VA Form 20-0995.
What the VA Promises to do Next
The Department of Veterans Affairs expects to contact survivors who reapply for benefits in the same way they were informed the original claim was denied.
Whether that is by regular mail, email, or online contact may depend on how the original application and responses were made.
In cases where a formerly denied claim is resubmitted and now approved, the original date of the denied claim may be used to calculate benefits, including back pay.
About the author
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.