US Military Dog Tags for the Air Force, Army, Marines, and NavyFor years, Veterans have struggled to obtain benefits for many conditions associated with toxic chemical exposure. However, the recent passage of the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act significantly expanded the Department of Veterans Affairs’ list of presumptive conditions. While the PACT Act represents a significant expansion to Veterans’ benefits eligibility, former servicepeople may still be subjected to preliminary toxic exposure screenings.

Toxic Exposure Screenings at the Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs does not require toxic exposure screenings to claim or obtain benefits. However, these screenings can help the agency’s medical personnel assess a Veteran’s service background to determine whether they were ever at risk for toxins exposure during an overseas deployment or domestic duty.

During a toxic screening exposure, Veterans may review their service records and be asked questions about their dates of employment and military service occupation.

Under the PACT Act, the Department of Veterans Affairs presumes that some medical conditions—including many cancers and respiratory conditions—could be related to exposure to:

Since many toxic exposure-related conditions have long latency periods, they do not always present immediate symptoms. Toxic exposure screenings can help Veterans obtain the resources needed to obtain more thorough diagnostic examinations.

What Happens During a VA Toxic Exposure Screening?

Eligible Veterans may be offered toxic exposure screenings, while others may have to enroll through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Under most circumstances, toxic exposure screenings only take 5 to 10 minutes to complete. During an examination, you may be:

  • Asked questions about your military service and any potential chemical hazards you encountered while serving in the United States armed forces.
  • Provided additional information about how exposure to toxic chemicals could have impacted your health.
  • Referred to a Department of Veterans Affairs physician for diagnostic screening.

Toxic medical screenings are largely voluntary, but they are recommended for most Veterans.

Since the PACT Act recognizes that American men and women who served in many recent conflicts could have been exposed to potentially life-threatening chemical hazards, screenings provide Veterans with an opportunity to understand their risk profile and obtain additional benefits whenever necessary.

What Happens After a VA Toxic Exposure Screening?

The Department of Veterans Affairs uses toxic exposure screenings to support patients’ long-term care plans. The results of a screening may be forwarded to, or voluntarily shared with the Veteran’s health care team.

Based on the information they receive from a screening, the health team could:

  • Discuss your concerns about prior service-related toxins exposure
  • Explain your eligibility for benefits and registry exams
  • Perform diagnostic tests for suspected illnesses and critical medical conditions

Former servicepeople are offered toxic exposure screenings once every five years. After a screening is complete, a Department of Veterans Affairs official will discuss relevant resources for benefits, diagnoses, and treatment.

What Are the Limitations of a VA Toxic Exposure Screening?

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that it has provided more than 1 million Veterans with toxic exposure screenings. However, while these screenings can help Veterans explore their eligibility for additional benefits, they have limitations:

  • Toxic exposure screenings are not diagnostic and cannot be used to apply for benefits in the absence of a verified medical diagnosis.
  • Screening results do not automatically initiate or preclude claims, and Veterans who are later diagnosed with a presumptive PACT Act condition must still file a benefits application.
  • An examination is separate from VA environmental health registries. However, health screenings can provide information about registry participation.

The Department of Veterans Affairs encourages most servicepeople to be proactive in assessing their risk and opportunities for recovery.

Contact an Experienced Veterans Affairs Attorney Today

The Department of Veterans affairs is charged with providing care to millions of American heroes. However, navigating the agency’s bureaucracy can be challenging, making it difficult for former servicepeople to obtain the benefits they need and the justice they deserve.

You do not have to take on bureaucracy alone. Sean Kendall, Attorney at Law, is committed to protecting Veterans’ rights. We could help you understand and assess your eligibility for benefits and advocate your disability claim, even if the Department of Veterans Affairs has already issued an adverse decision.

Please send us a message online or call us toll-free at 877-629-1712 to speak to an attorney and schedule your initial consultation.