WIS and South Carolina VA host phone bank to help with PACT Act questions and eligibility

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Published: Jul. 31, 2023 at 5:49 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Do you know what the PACT Act is and if you qualify? WIS News 10 is partnering with the South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Columbia VA Regional Office (SCDVA) to host a live phone bank for veterans to call in to get their questions about this new law answered.

According to SCDVA:

“The PACT Act is a law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. The law helps the VA provide generations of Veterans and their survivors with the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve.”

The purpose of the live phone bank is for veterans to call in with questions regarding PACT Act benefits, eligibility, and enrollment.

Veterans, family members, and survivors of veterans can call with questions on Wednesday, Aug. 2 from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. during WIS’s live broadcast.

The phone bank number to call is (803) 734-0200.

The purpose of the live phone bank is for veterans to call in with questions regarding PACT Act...
The purpose of the live phone bank is for veterans to call in with questions regarding PACT Act benefits, eligibility, and enrollment.(SCDVA)

SCDVA will also host a live introductory call-ahead session at 3 p.m. on their social media platforms to include Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn.

There are no deadlines to apply for PACT Act benefits, but there are approaching timelines for certain claims.

According to the SCDVA, those timelines are as follows:

  • Veterans who file their PACT Act claim or intent to file by August 9, 2023, may receive benefits backdated to August 10, 2022.
  • Post-9/11 combat veterans who served between 2001 and 2013 have until October 1, 2023, to enroll in Department of Veterans Affairs health care (this includes Veterans who have never applied and Veterans currently in rejected enrollment status).

The date will conclude a one-year “special enrollment period” provided by the PACT Act. The PACT Act brings these changes:

  • Expands and extends eligibility for VA health care for Veterans with toxic exposures and Veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras.
  • Adds 20+ more presumptive conditions for burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic exposures.
  • Adds more presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation.
  • Helps improve research, staff education, and treatment related to toxic exposures.

What does it mean to have a presumptive condition for toxic exposure?

  • To get a VA disability rating, your disability must connect to your military service. For many health conditions, you need to prove that your service caused your condition.
  • But for some conditions, its automatically assumed (or “presumed”) your service caused your condition. Those are called “presumptive conditions.”
  • A condition is considered presumptive when it’s established by law or regulation.
  • If you have a presumptive condition, you don’t need to prove your service caused the condition. You only need to meet the service requirements for the presumption.

To learn more information regarding PACT Act benefits and claims, visit the VA website HERE.

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