Congress recently enacted the landmark Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act. Under the PACT Act, hundreds of thousands of Veterans could receive benefits for service-related medical conditions, up to and including cancer.
Understanding the PACT Act
The PACT Act expands Veterans Affairs eligibility for conditions associated with service-related exposure to burn pits. The PACT Act broadly:
- Expands and extends benefits eligibility for Veterans who have been exposed to toxic substances during the Vietnam War, Gulf War, and all post-9/11 conflicts
- Provides benefits for more than 20 presumptive conditions related to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substance exposures
- Requires that the Department of Veterans Affairs provides toxic substance screening to every enrolled Veteran
- Includes funding for scientific research, staff training, and treatment
However, the PACT Act has certain limitations and only covers a pre-defined set of conditions.
Military Veterans and Burn Pits
Burn pits were once widely used to dispose of military waste, including:
- Chemical compounds
- Medical supplies
While burn pits provided an easy and cost-effective way for the military to dispose of waste, many Veterans reported unusual respiratory symptoms associated with exposure to burn pits. In the past decade, medical researchers have unearthed evidence suggesting that the toxic fumes produced by burn pits could cause significant respiratory distress and other serious medical conditions.
Nobody knows how many Veterans may have developed illnesses related to burn pit exposure. However, the United States Department of Defense has estimated that about 3.5 million Veterans may have been exposed to toxic burn pit-related fumes.
Burn Pit Exposure and Military Service
The PACT Act extends benefits to Veterans who have served in any of the following locations on or after September 11, 2001:
The PACT Act also provides benefits for Veterans who served in any of the following locations on or after August 2, 1990:
- Saudi Arabia
- The United Arab Emirates
Veterans could also be entitled to disability ratings if they transited or served in the airspace above any of the aforementioned countries.
The PACT Act and Cancer Treatment
Under most circumstances, the Department of Veterans Affairs only provides benefits for service-related conditions. Veterans are often asked to produce evidence demonstrating that a disability was caused by their military service.
However, the Veterans Affairs presumes that some conditions are related to service. These are called presumptive conditions.
Under the PACT Act, the following cancers are considered presumptive:
- Brain cancer
- Gastrointestinal cancer of any type
- Head cancer of any type
- Kidney cancer
- Lymphatic cancer of any type
- Lymphoma of any type
- Neck cancer of any type
- Pancreatic cancer
- Reproductive cancer of any type
- Respiratory cancer of any time
The PACT Act provides disability benefits and medical compensation for Veterans who need treatment for burn pit-related medical conditions, including cancer.
Compensation for Veterans’ Family Members
The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act also entitles deceased Veterans’ family members to benefits, including:
- Monthly Veterans Affairs Dependency and Indemnity Compensation payments
- One-time benefits payments
- Survivors Pensions
How You Can Obtain Benefits for a Service-Related Cancer
The PACT Act significantly expands benefits eligibility to Veterans who have developed cancer after being exposed to burn pits in the Middle East and Central Asia. While the Department of Veterans Affairs now considers certain cancers as presumptive conditions, obtaining benefits can still be a time-consuming and challenging process. Veterans may be forced to re-file existing claims or provide documentation detailing their deployment dates and locations.
Sean Kendall, Attorney at Law, believes that patriots should not be forced to navigate bureaucratic obstacles to obtain the compensation they need and the relief they deserve. If you, or a loved one, have been diagnosed with cancer after serving in the United States military, our experienced team of attorneys could help you file a compelling claim for benefits. Please send us a message online or call us at 303-449-4773 or toll-free at 877-629-1712 to schedule your initial consultation as soon as possible.