“These veterans will be eligible to enroll directly in VA health care without first applying for VA benefits.” – U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced a broad expansion of health care eligibility for Veterans and their surviving family members under the PACT Act. Effective as of March 5, 2024, millions of Veterans can enroll in VA health care without first applying for VA benefits. As a result, these Veterans may start receiving health care up to eight years earlier.

Eligibility applies to Veterans as follows:

  • Those who served in the Vietnam War, Gulf War, Iraq, or Afghanistan.
  • Those who served in any combat zone after 9/11.
  • Those who never deployed but were exposed to toxins or hazards while training or on active duty.

Veterans are not required to apply for VA disability compensation benefits in order to enroll in VA health care.

Access and Benefits under PACT Act

The PACT Act was signed into law on August 10, 2022. Since then, more than 795,235 claims have been approved under the PACT Act for over 720,945 Veterans and survivors. The VA reports a 75.2% approval rating for related claims.

How to apply for VA health care

  1. Apply online at https://www.va.gov/health-care/apply/application/introduction.
  2. Apply by phone at 877-222-8387 (toll-free; Mon-Fri, 8a-8p).
  3. Apply by mail (download VA Form 10-10EZ and instructions here).
  4. Apply in-person at your nearest VA medical center or clinic.

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