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Boom in Butler County claims as veterans face deadline to receive a year’s back pay in compensation

va medical center
Posted at 5:05 PM, Aug 07, 2023

HAMILTON, Ohio — While there is no deadline to file for potential benefits and compensation tied to the PACT Act, veterans do have a deadline to at least file their intent to file a claim.

The PACT Act was signed into law on Aug. 10, 2022, and expanded eligibility of care to veterans with toxic exposures to include burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxins.

“Butler County has seen about a 68% increase in PACT Act specific claims, which is a great thing because we're starting to run onto that one year of Aug. 10, 2022, when it was officially signed into law,” said Mike Farmer, the Butler County Veterans Service Commission executive director.

Farmer said the upcoming one-year mark is critical for some veterans.

“We need to get as much in as we can before Aug. 9 of this year to preserve that date of claim,” he said.

It’s not just veterans who’ve never filed before that he and the Veterans Administration are hoping to get through the doors.

“We see a lot of people calling in had been denied previously or a survivor and their loved one has passed, and they want to know, 'Is this something?' So, it's important to understand that if you've already been denied, or your loved one was denied when they were surviving, that we need to get you back in and review that claim file and possibly refile to establish benefits,” Farmer said.

As part of the screening process, VA facilities across the country are conducting toxic exposure screenings. According to the VA they’ve conducted more than four million so far since Aug. 10. Ellen Graf with the Cincinnati VA Medical Center said they’ve conducted 23,000 and counting.

“We are seeing about 39% of the folks who go through the screening as reporting at least one exposure. And of those exposures, the top exposures are Agent Orange and burn pit,” said Ellen, Chief of Patient Business Services at the CVAMC.

While word is spreading, the VA is putting the all-call out to have every veteran check in to see if they qualify for these extended benefits. Veterans from the Vietnam era to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are getting approved for the new coverage.

“Nationally since August of last year PACT Act-related claims is topping 744,000 claims,” Farmer said. “A little over 300,000 have already been granted and processed.”

In Indiana, he says they have about 11,000 PACT Act-specific claims, while Kentucky has 14,000 and Ohio has 24,000 so far.

“So it's working, the word is getting out. And you can always file but if we can do it before Aug. 9, it will be in the best interest of either the veteran or their surviving spouse,” Farmer said. “So, it's never too late. But sooner rather than later.”

To file reach out to your county Veterans Services Office, Cincinnati VA Medical Center, or the DAV.

You can also file online with the VA by clicking here.

If you have a veteran story to tell in your community, email homefront@wcpo.com. You also can join the Homefront Facebook group, follow Craig McKee on Facebook and find more Homefront stories here.