June 18, 2024

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VA extends PACT Act deadline to Aug. 14 for backdated advantages immediately after internet site difficulties

UPDATE: The Section of Veterans Affairs is extending the deadline for veterans and their survivors to file a assert beneath the PACT Act by 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, August 14, in order to have their rewards backdated to August 2022, when the legislation was signed into regulation. Go to VA.gov to file a incapacity assert online or learn how to post your intent to file.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is extending the deadline for veterans and their survivors to acquire the greatest profit they qualify for underneath the poisonous-exposure PACT Act.

The VA is now supplying veterans and their survivors right up until 11:59 p.m. ET  Monday, August 14, to post a advantages declare — or an intent to file a claim — and be eligible to have their rewards backdated to August 10, 2022, the day that President Biden signed…

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The Department of Veterans Affairs is extending the deadline for veterans and their survivors to receive the most advantage they qualify for under the toxic-publicity PACT Act.

The VA is now giving veterans and their survivors until 11:59 p.m. ET  Monday, August 14, to submit a gains claim — or an intent to file a declare — and be qualified to have their benefits backdated to August 10, 2022, the working day that President Biden signed the PACT Act into legislation.

VA spokesperson Terrence Hayes mentioned Wednesday that the office is extending the deadline “out of an abundance of caution just after enduring complex difficulties” with VA.gov.

The VA faced an eleventh-hour surge of on the web applications from veterans and their survivors attempting to fulfill the original Aug. 9 deadline for backdated positive aspects, which led to some applicants receiving an error message.

“Despite these messages, VA has properly logged each individual a person of these intents to file — which means that each veteran or survivor who has gained an error message though applying for PACT Act advantages can take into account their intent to file entire,” Hayes mentioned.

The VA is making contact with candidates who obtained an mistake information, to verify the division received their intent to file.

The VA, Hayes mentioned, has also settled “nearly all” of the specialized challenges with its web site. As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Hayes said significantly less than .1% of tries to submit an “intent to file” resulted in an error concept.

The division estimates virtually one particular in 5 veterans who utilized on the internet Tuesday encountered an mistake information.

The VA is also working with large phone volume to VA phone centers during the 7 days, and is getting ways to decrease abnormally lengthy contact middle wait periods.

“We carry on to function on these issues and will not rest until eventually they are thoroughly resolved,” Hayes stated.

Because Biden signed the PACT Act into regulation a year ago, veterans and their survivors have acquired $1.85 billion in advantages. About 330,000 veterans have enrolled in VA well being treatment, and 4 million have obtained toxic exposure screenings.

Property VA Committee Chairman Mike Bost (R-Ill.) is pressing the VA for responses in excess of its specialized problems.

Bost mentioned approximately 5,600 veterans recently received an error concept on line when striving to post an intent to file, and about 560 veterans did not have their intent to file efficiently logged by the VA’s on the web procedure.

About 90% of veterans did have their intent to file effectively logged by the VA, but Bost stated he remains “concerned” but the VA’s handling of the promises surge.

“VA’s failure to anticipate and get ready for the amplified quantity of submissions as the PACT Act deadline approached is unacceptable, supplied that the circumstance was effortlessly foreseeable as this legislation is the largest growth of health care and added benefits for veterans in current background,” Bost mentioned.

VA’s Business office of Facts and Technology, he extra, routinely scales up the processing capability of other web sites and methods to mitigate spikes in traffic

Bost and other congressional VA leaders are calling for a root result in evaluation of the VA.gov technical troubles.

VA sees surge in PACT Act benefit promises, internet site issues in advance of deadline

Hayes explained in a assertion Tuesday evening that an “extremely significant volume of submissions” led to some veterans and their survivors obtaining mistake messages when publishing their “intent to file” PACT Act claims.

“We at VA are operating to take care of this challenge immediately, and we will make absolutely sure that no veteran or survivor misses out on their acquired gains since of these complex challenges,” Hayes said.

“Due to the high volume of submissions we are receiving, you just can’t carry on with this assert form at this time — but we have received your intent to file and saved your powerful date for added benefits,” the mistake concept states.

The VA’s updated error concept informs applicants who have submitted an intent to file have one particular whole calendar year to thoroughly total their claim.

The VA says it’s working to resolve these technological troubles, but is telling veterans and survivors to even now file a PACT Act assert — or submit their intent to file.

“Despite these messages, every veteran or survivor who received an error information now whilst making use of for PACT Act gains can contemplate their intent to file total,” Hayes mentioned. “We are doing work to speak to these persons to ensure directly to them that their intent to file will be honored and their helpful day guarded.”

The VA stated it also obtained an “extremely high” simply call volume to its toll-cost-free telephone variety (800-698-2411) which serves as a “front door” for all its general public-facing expert services.

The section mentioned simply call wait instances, which generally averaged 10-30 seconds, went up to 10-15 minutes on Tuesday.

“Bottom line: no veteran or survivor will miss out on a single day of rewards because of to this situation,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough tweeted Wednesday.

There is no deadline to utilize for PACT Act added benefits, but veterans who file their PACT Act declare — or their intent to file a assert — by Aug. 9 may well get rewards backdated to Aug. 10, 2022, the day President Joe Biden signed the laws into regulation.

The PACT Act marks a key growth of VA health care and benefits for veterans uncovered to melt away pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances.

Beneath the PACT Act, veterans are instantly eligible for VA wellbeing care and rewards if they have a single or far more of 20 situations connected to harmful publicity.

Senate VA Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is contacting on the VA to warranty all veterans who submitted for PACT Act positive aspects have their submissions honored as on-time.

Tester, in a letter Wednesday, is inquiring the VA for an overview of the root result in of its complex difficulties, “and how VA will handle this weak spot in the method relocating forward.”

Tester is also requesting every day updates on VA’s efforts to notify veterans that their declare — or intent to file a assert — has been obtained.

“VA should now follow via with its plan to acknowledge the programs as staying on-time and notify all impacted veterans they have properly achieved the deadline,” he wrote. “It is important that the adult men and girls who have served our nation are able to access the health and fitness care and gains they have earned.”

Tester is also urgent the VA to get its techniques all set to manage a surge of wellbeing care apps ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline for veterans to enroll in VA overall health treatment under the PACT Act.

“I request VA revisit the devices and processes in area to obtain purposes for wellness care to make sure they are ready to deal with a sizeable surge resulting from the deadline,” he wrote. “VA have to ensure every veteran who is suitable to utilize underneath the open up enrollment authority is able to do so
devoid of challenges.”

Dwelling VA Committee Ranking Member Mark Takano (D-Calif.) stated the VA briefed his employees about a “small quantity of veterans” who acquired an error message or expert a process time-out while making an attempt to submit a PACT Act benefit claim.

“It cannot be minimized how disruptions like this can be annoying for veterans and their survivors. I urge VA to conduct the vital just after actions to come across out what went mistaken. Even though it is great news that 1000’s of veterans are submitting for their PACT Act positive aspects ahead of the deadline, it is disappointing that VA had yet yet another IT trouble that has perplexed and disappointed veterans,” Takano reported.

Takano added that the VA must have anticipated a surge in PACT Act statements, and urged the section to use  IT funding in the legislation “to assure that these sorts of incidents don’t keep on to occur.”

The VA is ramping up its workforce under the PACT Act. The Veterans Wellbeing Administration hired extra than 43,000 new employees so considerably in fiscal 12 months 2023, and is on monitor to satisfy its calendar year-conclude aim of building 52,000 new hires.

The PACT Act presents the VA much more than 10 new authorities to support employing and retention. Those people consist of increased boundaries for university student bank loan repayments, recruitment, relocation, and retention incentives, and reducing statutory boundaries on awards and bonuses.

The Veterans Positive aspects Company also has far more than 30,000 workforce, its major workforce ever.

“There’s extra for us to do for our frontline workers,” McDonough mentioned at a push meeting Tuesday.

The PACT Act marks the biggest expansion of VA overall health care and gains in a technology. The VA estimates about 3.5 million more veterans will receive VA wellness care or gains less than the legislation.

Comedian Jon Stewart, a foremost advocate for the PACT Act who invested significantly of final yr urgent lawmakers to pass the laws, urged veterans and their survivors to use for advantages by the Aug. 9 deadline.

“I beg of you, get all those gains that you and your family members have earned,” Stewart claimed in a July 26 video clip message on Twitter. “It will be perfectly value it … you acquired them.”

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