CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Yesterday was supposed to be the due date for the Pact Act applications to be submitted but because of technical difficulties preventing some claims from being filed, the deadline is now extended.
Applicants have until Monday, Aug. 14 to apply, or submit their intent to file for Pact Act benefits.
JJ De La Cerda, the director of Veteran Services and Veteran Service Officer for Nueces County, advocated for all veterans who qualify to apply to the Pact Act.
De La Cerda said the Pact Act will make a great impact for those who served.
“Veterans are getting their benefits right after so long especially Iraq and Afghanistan veterans that have never applied for them they don’t know (...) this is a benefit you can apply for do it now, and this is going to help you throughout your lifetime,” De La Cerda said.
The Pact Act expanded disability and health care for veterans exposed to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Vietnam War veterans who were victims of Agent Orange are also covered.
The Pact Act was signed into law a year ago today.
LeRoy Torres, co founder of Burn Pits 360 organization, told KRIS 6 News how significant this day is for him.
“It’s been an emotional day, knowing that we were there last year at the signing next to President Biden," Torres said.
De La Cerda said now the Pact Act has broaden its qualifications to apply.
“Before hypertension and high blood pressure was not a presumptive condition of Agent Orange," De Le Cerda said. "With this Pact Act that made that made that a presumptive condition. So anyone that was previously denied for hypertension that was a Vietnam veteran or a Navy veteran can essentially appeal that decision.”
While there is no deadline to apply, if the claim is filed, or the intent is submitted to file by Aug. 14, applicants will get a whole years worth of benefits.
“Let’s say you apply today it holds your place and if you apply or by the deadline which is Aug. 14, at midnight you can get retro payment benefits all the way back to when they first signed the law, which was Aug. 10 of 2022,” De La Cerda said.
Torres encouraged all veterans who believe they qualify to apply.
“It's great and I encourage every veteran, because it is an entitlement that they all have, it’s not a hand out it’s an entitlement,” Torres said.