June 22, 2024

FACT SHEET: President Biden to Announce 1 Million PACT Act Claims Approved, Benefits Delivered to Veterans in all 50 States and U.S. Territories

FACT SHEET: President Biden to Announce 1 Million PACT Act Claims Approved, Benefits Delivered to Veterans in all 50 States and U.S. Territories

President Biden signed the landmark bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act into law in August 2022, enacting the most significant expansion of benefits and services for toxic exposed veterans in more than 30 years.  Named in honor of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson, a decorated combat medic who died from a rare form of lung cancer, this historic legislation is delivering timely benefits and services to veterans—across all generations—who have been impacted by toxic exposures while serving our country.

Thanks to this transformational law, the President will announce that more than 1 million PACT Act related claims have now been granted.  More than 888,000 veterans and survivors across all 50 states and U.S. territories are now receiving new service-connected disability benefits.
 
President Biden believes that our nation has a sacred obligation to properly prepare and equip the troops we send into harm’s way – and to care for them and their families when they return home. Sometimes military service can result in increased health risks for our veterans, and some injuries and illnesses like asthma, cancer, and others can take years to manifest. These realities can make it difficult for veterans to establish a direct connection between their service and disabilities resulting from military environmental exposures such as burn pits – a necessary step to ensure they receive the disability benefits and health care they earned. The PACT Act eliminated these barriers and ensures veterans get the care and services they deserve.

President Biden has made clear that supporting our veterans is a commitment that unites all Americans – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — and it’s why he made supporting our veterans a core element of his Unity Agenda. Under President Biden’s leadership, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has processed claims at the fastest rate in history, and is delivering health care to more veterans than ever before. Today, to mark a key milestone in this effort, the President will join veterans and their families at the Westwood Park YMCA in Nashua, New Hampshire to discuss how the historic PACT Act has delivered lifesaving health care and benefits to more than 888,000 veterans and survivors.

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration will also release new national and state-by-state data on PACT Act claims granted. 
 
The Administration has helped veterans in every state and territory receive the services and care they deserve by:

  • Screening veterans for toxic exposures: More than 5.4 million veterans have received free screenings for toxic exposures from VA under the PACT Act – a critical step to catching and treating potentially life-threatening health conditions as early as possible.
  • Delivering benefits to veterans and their survivors: Since enactment, VA has delivered more than $5.7 billion in earned PACT Act-related benefits to veterans and their survivors. VA is delivering these benefits to veterans at the fastest rate in history, processing 1.57 million total claims thus far in this fiscal year – 28% more year-to-date than the previous all-time record. In total, VA has processed 1,327,228 PACT Act claims since August 10, 2022.
  • Prioritizing veterans with cancer: As a part of President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot, VA has prioritized claims processing for veterans with cancer – delivering nearly $637 million in PACT Act benefits to veterans with cancer. VA also prioritizes claims for veterans with terminal illnesses and veterans experiencing homelessness.
  • Spreading the word to veterans and their survivors: Thanks to the PACT Act outreach campaign, veterans and survivors are applying for their earned benefits at record rates. Since August 2022, veterans and survivors have submitted 4.17 million total claims. This includes 1,655,810 PACT Act-specific claims applications.
  • Increasing VA’s capacity to serve veterans: Thanks to new PACT Act authorities, VA has been able to expand its workforce in order to serve veterans as quickly and effectively as possible. In total, both the Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Benefits administration have achieved their highest growth rates in 20 years.
  • Eliminating benefits delays for veterans: Instead of phasing in conditions over several years (as outlined in the legislation), the Biden-Harris Administration decided to make all conditions in the PACT Act presumptive for benefits as of August 10, 2022, the day the bill was signed into law. This decision expedited the timeline for veterans to receive their earned care and benefits by several years.
  • Accelerating health care eligibility for veterans: As of March 2024, VA opened up eligibility for toxic exposed veterans to enroll in VA Health Care without first having to prove a service-connected disability and regardless of their deployment location, nearly ten years earlier than called for in the PACT Act. Thanks to new PACT Act eligibility, more than 145,000 veterans have newly enrolled in VA Health Care since August 10, 2022.

These historic efforts to address military toxic exposures build on the Biden-Harris Administration’s recent work to support our nation’s veterans, including:

  • Ending veteran homelessness. No one should be homeless in this country, especially not those who served it. That’s why President Biden is proposing a guaranteed voucher for extremely low-income veterans, a population at especially high risk of homelessness. Last year, VA found permanent housing for over 46,000 veterans, expanded access to health care for homeless Veterans, expanded access to legal assistance for homeless Veterans, helped more than 145,000 Veterans and their families retain their homes or otherwise avoid foreclosure, and awarded more than $1 billion in grant funding to help homeless Veterans. These efforts are leading to results: from 2020 to 2023, there was a nearly 5 percent decline in veteran homelessness. And, tomorrow, Dallas will announce that it has effectively ended veteran homelessness.
  • Securing jobs for our veterans. Roughly 200,000 service members transition from the military each year and the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to providing them and their spouses the support they need to find good paying jobs. This includes helping connect veterans to registered apprentice programs, so they can transfer the skills they learned in the military.
  • Removing barriers to mental health care. Next week, VA will take action to remove all cost-sharing for the first three behavioral health visits for veterans enrolled in VA health care, helping to ensure that all those in need can get the care they need. This action builds on VA’s new policy allowing eligible veterans and certain former service members in acute suicidal crisis to go to any VA or non-VA health care facility for no-cost emergency health care – over 50,000 veterans and service members have used this benefit since it launched in 2023. VA is doing everything it can, including expanding mental health screenings, increasing access to legal and financial support, and hiring more mental health professionals, to help veterans get the help they need. For veterans and family members who may be experiencing a crisis, the Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7 by dialing 988 and then pressing 1.
  • Supporting veterans and caregivers. Last year, President Biden signed an Executive Order directing the VA to cut red tape and give veterans who need assistance at home more flexibility to pick their own caregivers. As part of those actions, VA also launched a pilot program, known as the Virtual Psychotherapy Program for Caregivers, to provide mental health counseling services to family caregivers caring for our nation’s heroes. The program successfully completed its pilot phase and is now a permanent program. Since October 2023, the program has provided over 4,937 psychotherapy sessions to family caregivers. And, last year, President Biden signed an Executive Order calling for the most comprehensive set of administrative actions in our nation’s history to support the economic security of military and veteran spouses, caregivers, and survivors.

If you are a veteran, visit www.va.gov/PACT or go to your local VA hospital to see if you are eligible for PACT Act benefits and services.

For a state-by-state breakdown of PACT Act data, click here.
 

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Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2024/05/21/fact-sheet-president-biden-to-announce-1-million-pact-act-claims-approved-benefits-delivered-to-veterans-in-all-50-states-and-u-s-territories/