US Dept of Veteran Affairs: PACT Act Fraud Prevention
Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022 (PACT Act) represents the biggest expansion of Veteran benefits in history, and many Veterans may be eligible to receive compensation for their service. The PACT Act adds 23 burn pit and toxic exposure-related conditions to VA’s list of service presumptions, including hypertension, with the expansion of presumptions related to Agent Orange exposure by including Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa, and Johnston Atoll as locations for Agent Orange exposure.
While this legislation brings great promise to Veterans, it’s also a monumental opportunity for fraud. VA has received multiple reports of unaccredited law firms or companies targeting Veterans to offer their services to file claims for presumptive conditions. Unaccredited law firms and companies are reaching out to help for a fee as high as 40% of the Veteran’s retroactive payment and 40% of the Veteran’s first year of entitlement payments.
VA is committed to help protect Veterans from predatory entities, by educating Veterans, their families, and all partners about the types of activity and tactics being used against them.
To avoid being a victim of these schemes, here are some helpful tips to remember:
- Apply directly to VA. You may submit your application securely online via VA.GOV or in person at any regional office. You may file your claim directly with VA, and VA will help you gather the necessary evidence to support it. There are no costs or hidden fees to apply. Do not agree to pay an unaccredited individual or organization a percentage of your disability compensation payment or retroactive entitlement. If you need help filing a claim, there are accredited representatives to assist you.
- Be cautious of aggressive law firms or companies. Firms may use frequent communications (phone, text, and media messages) to establish a sense of urgency.
- Be cautious of for-profit companies that use VA’s name. They may alter their name to create a false association with VA and establish legitimacy. Examples include a website such as VAclaimsassistance.com that incorporates VA into its name.
- Review all legally binding documents thoroughly. Never sign a blank form someone else will fill out later or give them full discretion to act on your behalf. See the contents before you sign and keep a copy for yourself.
- Be wary of media advertisements regarding legal representation for presumptive VA claims. Companies advertising legal services may be predatory and financially motivated to obtain your VA benefits.
- If a company or individual is projecting misinformation or has questionable business practices regarding VA entitlements, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau.
- To report suspected fraudulent activity, please contact the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) Hotline (va.gov).
- Veterans and survivors who think they might be eligible should apply for PACT Act benefits right now. Go to va.gov/PACT or call 1-800-MYVA411 for more information.
If you know a Veteran who is in crisis, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.
Click here to view the press release.
Provided as a service to veterans by Berkley American Legion Post 374, 2079 12 Mile Road, Berkley, MI 48072