VA Accelerates Eligibility for Expanded Health Care Benefits Under PACT ACT

The VA Under Secretary for Health announced that veterans exposed to toxins or hazards during service will be eligible for health care benefits commencing March 5, 2024, much sooner than mandated under the terms of the PACT Act.

Veterans deployed to combat zones in support of the Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan wars are entitled to enroll and be screened for toxic exposure to determine what type of health care they may be entitled to receive, including any specialty care for conditions related to toxic exposure. If placed in a priority-based group, veterans will not be required to make co-payments for any treatment related to exposure-related illnesses.

In addition, non-deployed veterans who were exposed to hazards in the U.S. or abroad while participating in “toxic exposure risk activity” (TERA) will be eligible for health care benefits. The VA will consider service records and other resources to assess TERA, and such review will examine exposure while on active duty, active-duty training and inactive-duty training to:

  • Air pollutants from burn pits, particulate matter, sulfur or oil well fires
  • Chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, contaminated water or depleted uranium from embedded shrapnel
  • Occupational hazards including lead, industrial solvents, toxic paint, asbestos and firefighting foam
  • Radiation, including nuclear weapons handling, maintenance and detonation, X-rays and occupational exposure
  • Chemical or biological weapons or nerve agents

Veterans do not have to file for service-connected disability or already have a service-connected disability rating to be eligible for expanded health care benefits. Any veteran interested in exploring eligibility should visit VA.gov/PACT or call 1-800-MYVA411 to start the review process.

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