“If you served at one of these locations during the time in which you were exposed to burn pits,
and you have one of these presumptive conditions, you should essentially be granted automatic service connection on your VA disability application.”
PACT Act burn pit presumptive conditions
“Hi, I’m Lori Underwood. I’m a VA-accredited attorney working for Woods and Woods law firm.
“We represent veterans on their VA disability compensation claims and appeals. Today, we’re going to be talking about burn pits and recent legislation that expanded presumptive conditions related to burn pits.
“For far too long, there were no presumptive conditions related to burn pits, and it wasn’t until 2014 that the VA started the burn pit registry, which collected names of veterans who have been exposed to burn pits so they could do more research and look into the adverse health effects of those exposures.
“Over time, as research and medical advancements were made, we started to see some burn pit presumptives trickle in. That gets us caught up to where we are today, which is the signing of the PACT Act, which expanded burn pit presumptives tremendously.”
What is the PACT Act?
“The PACT Act stands for the ‘Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics.’ It was signed into law on August 10th, 2022.
“A little bit of history about the PACT Act is that it’s formally named after Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson, who died in 2020 from lung cancer after battling the disease for many years. Sergeant Robinson was deployed twice to Iraq and exposed to burn pits in both of his deployments, which resulted in his lung cancer.
“After he passed away, his wife and family continued the fight to bring the PACT Act into law and expand the presumptives for veterans like Mr. Robinson, and all of the others who have been exposed to burn pits through their service.
“The PACT Act is a very expansive piece of legislation. It is probably the most expansive piece I’ve seen since I began practicing VA law nearly a decade ago. It covers not only burn pits, but numerous toxins that veterans have been exposed to. Not only does it cover our Southwest Asia veterans, but veterans from some of our prior conflicts as well.”
What are burn pits?
“Burn pits are massive waste combustion facilities that were frequently used on our military bases in the global war on terror. These burn pit areas on military bases were used to burn many different sources of trash, including toxic waste, which contaminated the air with toxins.
“They were large. They were visibly dirty. Most veterans are aware if they’ve been exposed to burn pits. Some of the things that they burned were paint, electronics, and rubber. The list goes on and on. If you’d like more information on burn pits, you can watch other videos on our Youtube channel or read our blog. They give more explanation.”
How does the PACT Act impact veterans exposed to burn pits?
“Prior to the PACT Act, we know a lot of claims associated with burn pits were denied. The medical research just wasn’t there yet for a presumption to be granted by the VA. Over the years, as the advocates for these presumptives continued to pound the pavement and medical advances were made, it became clear that there were conditions the VA was going to be able to presume to be related to these burn pits. Those are the conditions that have been included in the PACT Act.
“Once the PACT Act was signed, providing the presumptives, a medical nexus was no longer needed for burn pit exposed veterans to be granted service connection, if they were diagnosed with these conditions.
“Before the passage of the PACT Act, there were three lung conditions and nine rare cancers which were considered presumptive to burn pit exposure. But that was insufficient, as evidenced by the PACT Act, which added numerous other conditions.
“The PACT Act added several types of cancer, including head cancer of any type, neck cancer of any type, respiratory cancer of any type, gastrointestinal cancer of any type, reproductive cancer of any type, lymphoma cancer of any type, lymphatic cancer of any type, kidney cancer, brain cancer, glioblastoma, melanoma, and pancreatic cancer.
“Other conditions added by the PACT Act include chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, otherwise known as COPD, constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis, emphysema, granulomatous disease, interstitial lung disease, pleuritis, pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis, chronic sinusitis, chronic rhinitis, and rhinosinusitis.
“The PACT Act not only added presumptive conditions but also expanded locations in which burn pit exposure is presumed to have occurred.”
“Woods and Woods experience will give you the best chance to get what you deserve.“
How do effective dates work for PACT Act burn pit claims?
“The PACT Act was signed into law on August 10th, 2022. The veteran had up to one year to make a claim for a burn pit presumptive condition and have it relate back to the date of what is called the liberalizing law. August 10th, 2022 is the date of the liberalizing law because that is the date that it was signed into and made law. So, the veteran had up until August 9th, 2023 to get that claim in.
“However, on August 9th, the VA’s systems crashed because there were so many last-minute claims. So, they did extend that deadline to August 14th, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. So, if the veteran made a claim for one of the PACT Act presumptive conditions or filed an intent to file a claim by August 14th at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, then a grant for that service connection would relate back to August 10th of 2022, when the PACT Act was signed into law.
“If the veteran did not get their claim or intent to file in by that August 14th deadline, then the claim would relate back to the date of the new claim that has been filed since then.”
Service connection can lead to 100% compensation
“The PACT Act added numerous severe and significant claims for presumptive service connection
for our veterans. These conditions may be so severe that they also prevent the veteran from being able to work, and that would give rise to a total disability individual unemployability claim, otherwise known as TDIU. We have numerous videos and blog posts on TDIU.
“Specifically, there are numerous lung conditions that were added by the PACT Act, and these can have a variety of physical impairments and limitations on a veteran such as shortness of breath and activity, or they may give rise to secondary conditions that could also be service connected.
“An example would be if you are presumptively service connected for COPD because of your exposure to burn pits. COPD is often known to cause sleep apnea, and sleep apnea can lead to a whole host of other symptoms which may also be ratable, such as headaches or fatigue and ultimately, unemployability. If you can’t hold a job because of the combined effects of these limitations, you may be eligible for TDIU.
“The same can be true of any presumptive condition that’s now included in the PACT Act as well. The PACT Act provided presumptive service connection for numerous cancers. Cancers are treated with a 100% temporary rating while they’re active and in treatment, and up to six months after the treatment has concluded.
“After that conclusion and in the post six months period, cancers are usually rated on the residuals the veteran experiences because of either the cancer itself or the treatment they endured for the cancer. For example, chemotherapy is known to cause a number of permanent secondary side effects that could be ratable on their own, including hearing loss, nerve damage, and heart conditions. And that’s just a few examples.”
How hiring a Woods and Woods VA-accredited attorney can help
“The PACT Act has certainly made grants for service connection easier on some of our veterans, but VA claims and appeals in general are still very hard to win. There may be more benefits on the table for the veteran that they should be granted that are not initially visible through that PACT Act. And that’s what we’re here to help with. We know how to preserve effective dates. We know how to make a solid case before the VA. We work with medical professionals who understand VA claims, and we work hard to maximize the veteran’s benefits to get them what they deserve.
“If you’re wondering if you would qualify for TDIU or 100% or even service connection in general, then reach out to us for a consultation. We’d be happy to discuss your claims.”
VA disability lawyer
Woods and Woods
VA Accreditation Number: 38539