The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is setting a new deadline for retroactive benefits under the PACT Act after experiencing a high number of last-minute claims Wednesday.
Veterans now have until late Monday evening to apply for benefits under the PACT Act retroactive to August 2022.
The VA said veterans and survivors who apply (or submit their intent to file) for PACT Act benefits by 11:59 pm ET on Monday, Aug. 14, will be eligible to have benefits backdated to Aug. 10, 2022 — the day that President Biden signed the PACT Act into law, according to a new message from the Ohio Department of Veterans Services Thursday.
This is an extension from the original deadline of Wednesday, the department noted.
“VA has made this decision out of an abundance of caution after experiencing technical difficulties with VA.gov/PACT in recent days,” the department said.
State and federal veterans agencies noted a high number of error messages for veterans who attempted to file online earlier.
And there were also long waits for those who called 1-800-MyVA411, the state veterans affairs department said.
Early Thursday afternoon, the VA.gov/PACT appeared to be working.
Marc Rohner, a program specialist at the Dayton VA, has advised veterans to call 1-(800) 827-1000 to register their intent to file for PACT Act benefits at the Veterans Benefits Administration’s primary customer service number.
On Thursday, Rohner said the local Dayton VA campus has seen a “slight increase” in PACT applications and inquiries, but not an overwhelming number. There also has been an increase in walk-ins by veterans looking to apply for benefits, he said.
“We’ve been very proactive, so we haven’t seen an overwhelming number of calls,” Rohner said.
The new deadline is good news, he said.
The deadline is for retroactive coverage. Even if veterans don’t make the new deadline, PACT Act benefits are not going away, he said. Those benefits will still be in force after Monday.
“I would just encourage them to call that number, 1-(800) 827-1000, as soon as they can,” he added.
The PACT Act expands VA health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxins. The law adds more than 20 conditions that are now assumed to be related to exposures, including high blood pressure, now presumed to be related to military service.
An open house on the PACT Act is set for the American Legion post at 116 S. Main St., Middletown, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 26. Veterans attending are asked to bring a photo ID and a copy of their DD-214 discharge papers, Rohner said.