On Dec. 12, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it would immediately begin processing PACT Act benefits claims for eligible terminally ill veterans. VA does not have the authority to begin fully processing PACT Act claims for all other veterans until Jan. 1, 2023.
“These veterans have stepped up to serve our country in the times when we needed them most — and now it’s our job to step up for them,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough in a press release. “It’s the right thing to do to get these heroes the world-class health care and benefits they’ve earned as soon as possible, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
Dec. 12 is the earliest date VA could begin processing claims for terminally ill veterans. Until Jan. 1, 2023, VA will only finalize decisions on PACT Act claims that result in a grant of benefits for terminally ill veterans. Claims that cannot be granted immediately will be held for further evaluation after publication of sub-regulatory guidance implementing the PACT Act.
Jan. 1, 2023, VA will continue to prioritize the processing of PACT Act claims for terminally ill veterans. At that point, VA will also prioritize PACT Act claims filed by veterans with cancer, veterans experiencing homelessness, veterans older than 85 years old, veterans experiencing financial hardship, and Medal of Honor and Purple Heart recipients.
Since President Biden signed the PACT Act into law on Aug. 10, more than 176,000 veterans have applied for PACT Act-related benefits. VA is currently executing the largest veteran outreach campaign in its history to inform veterans, their families and survivors about the PACT Act and encourage them to apply for the health care and benefits they have earned.