NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — The deadline is approaching for veterans to get their full range of benefits under the PACT Act. The law expanding eligibility for healthcare benefits for vets related to burn pit, Agent Orange and other chemical exposures is one of the largest VA expansions in U.S. history.
The deadline to file a claim to receive benefits starting August 10, 2022 is August 10, 2023.
Ben Dykes, the director of Washington County Veterans Services, said if veterans don’t file a claim by that deadline, they could miss out on a lot of money.
“If you are rated at 100% disabled veteran, that’s almost $4,000 a month, and if you backdate that for 12 months, it’s close to $50,000 that you would miss out on,” Dykes said.
However, if a veteran doesn’t file by the August 10 deadline, they can still file. They just won’t receive the full range of benefits starting from Aug. 10, 2022.
With the struggling economy and high inflation, filing these claims could make a huge difference in the lives of veterans who are also needing to pay medical bills. He added that there are many veterans who may not know about the need to file claims.
“There are many veterans across the country, definitely here in our local area, that aren’t aware or keeping track. Maybe they’ve changed their address and the VA doesn’t have their information to send them a notification letter,” Dykes said.
According to the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks, the facility has had over 7,800 filed claims under the PACT Act so far, and officials expect even more.
Teresa Hamilton, the supervisor of eligibility and enrollment at the VA in Fayetteville said they have been hosting job fairs trying to hire staff to keep up with demand.
Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks is also doing outreach everywhere to make sure veterans are aware. Representatives will be at the Steel Horse Rally in Fort Smith this weekend to do some of that outreach.
“We just want to get the word out to as many veterans as we possibly can, and we’re setting up outreaches as fast as we can,” Hamilton said.
If you know of a veteran who is a friend or family member, Dykes advised reaching out to them to let them know they may qualify to file a claim. Dykes said this compensation could be a game-changer for veterans who need it.
“If filing these claims offset some of your healthcare costs, maybe some of your medication, and then you’re also awarded some compensation because of those things, it could be life-changing,” Dykes said.
You can find out more about how to file a claim here.