Today, VA announced that veterans and their survivors have filed more than 500,000 claims for toxic exposure-related benefits under the PACT Act since President Biden signed it into law on August 10, 2022. To date, VA has awarded more than $1 billion in earned benefits to veterans and survivors who filed PACT Act-related claims.
VA also announced that more than 3 million veterans have received VA’s new toxic exposure screenings since President Biden signed the PACT Act into law, with approximately 42% reporting a concern of exposure. More than 215,000 veterans have enrolled in VA health care during that timeframe, a 15% increase from the same timeframe the year before.
In April, VA also processed its millionth disability compensation and pension claim during fiscal year 2023, putting VA on pace to process a record number of veteran claims for the third year in a row. Thanks to aggressive hiring and modernization efforts, VA processed a record number of veteran claims in 2021, exceeded that in 2022, and is on track to exceed it again in 2023. In total, VA has delivered more than $65 billion in earned compensation benefits to veterans during fiscal year 2023.
The PACT Act is the biggest expansion of veteran health care and benefits in generations. VA encourages all eligible Veterans and survivors to file a claim – or submit their intent to file a claim – for PACT Act-related benefits now. Most veterans who do so before August 10 will have their benefits, if granted, backdated to August 10, 2022, the day that President Biden signed the bill into law.
“Thanks to President Biden, the millions of veterans who fought our wars for the past 30 years – who breathed in debris from sandstorms, fumes from burning trash, and more while overseas – are now taken care of for the conditions that followed them home from war,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “We’re proud that 500,000+ veterans and survivors have applied for their hard-earned benefits to date, but we won’t rest until every veteran and every survivor gets the VA health care and benefits they deserve.”
VA is delivering health care and benefits at record rates partly due to a dramatic increase in hiring. The Veterans Health Administration welcomed 27,181 new hires in the first six months of the fiscal year, the highest hiring level in the history of VA for that timeframe. The Veterans Benefits Administration’s total workforce grew by 2,040 employees in the first six months of the fiscal year – the highest growth rate in the past 15 years.
For more information on VA’s implementation of the PACT Act, visit the PACT Act Dashboard. VA is publishing this dashboard every other Friday to document the implementation of this legislation and showcase its impact on veterans and survivors. The next dashboard, which will reflect the 500,000 PACT Act claim milestone and the 3 million toxic exposure screenings milestone, will publish on April 28.
Veterans and survivors can apply or learn more about the PACT Act by visiting VA.gov/PACT or by calling 1-800-MYVA411.