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VA Expands Eligibility for Veterans’ Benefits Through Senator Hassan and Colleagues’ PACT Act

VA adds three cancers to its presumptive conditions list using framework from the PACT Act

WASHINGTON – Leveraging authorities granted to it by Senator Hassan and colleagues’ bipartisan PACT Act, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) last week added three cancer types to its list of service-connected disabilities presumed to be caused by military toxic exposure based on where and when a veteran served. Presumptive service connection ensures that the VA automatically assumes a disease is service-connected, making the disability compensation claims process easier for veterans. Senator Hassan and colleagues’ PACT Act created a framework that enables the VA to further expand presumptive service connection benefits for toxic-exposed veterans. Prior to the PACT Act, the VA’s ability to establish presumptive conditions was slow, cumbersome, and often required Congressional action.

“I am pleased that the VA is taking more steps to expand eligibility for veterans to access benefits through the PACT Act and encourage Granite State veterans to check if they may be eligible for new benefits,” said Senator Hassan. “When I worked with my colleagues to develop and pass the PACT Act into law, we included provisions to keep the law up-to-date with the latest science. The addition of these conditions to the VA’s list of presumptive conditions will help veterans in New Hampshire and across the country more easily receive the benefits that they have earned and deserve.”

The cancers that the VA added to its presumption of service connection list include male breast cancer, urethral cancer, and cancer of the paraurethral glands for eligible Gulf War and Post-9/11 veterans deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Dijbouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Uzbekistan, and the entire Southwest Asia theater of operations.

This announcement marks the latest increase in benefits through the PACT Act. In 2022, Senator Hassan helped develop and pass into law the legislation, which fundamentally reforms and improves how veterans exposed to toxic substances receive health care and benefits from the VA. In March, the VA expanded health care eligibility under the PACT Act. Now, millions of veterans – including veterans who served in the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Global War on Terror, or any other combat zone after 9/11, as well as veterans who served elsewhere and were exposed to toxic substances – are eligible to enroll in VA health care. Under this law, the VA last month granted its one millionth PACT Act disability claim.

Veterans exposed to toxic substances and their survivors can apply for health care and benefits at or by calling 1-800-MYVA411.