NewsBytes November 4, 2022    

In this issue:
FRA Participates in PACT Act Briefing
SBP/DIC Offset Repeal Update
Marine Corps’ Birthday Celebration

FRA Participates in VA Briefing on Implementation of PACT Act
DLP John Davis attended a day-long briefing at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on the recently signed into law “PACT Act,” a comprehensive veterans toxic exposure law (S.3373, P.L.117-168). VA Secretary Denis McDonough addressed the VSO/MSO group on implementation of this Act. In addition, the VA provided subject matter experts from Veterans Benefits Administration, Veterans Health Administration and others. 

The VA reported that it has already received nearly 113,000 new disability claims linked to the comprehensive toxic exposure legislation that was signed into law Aug. 10, 2022. A signal of the potential impact on claims backlogs and the work ahead for the VA. Claims can be filed now but will not be processed until January 2023. 

The bill would allow for the first time all veterans who were at risk of toxic exposure, including 3.5 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, to obtain immediate and lifelong access to health care from the VA — one of the largest expansions of health care eligibility in its history. The bill would establish a presumption of service connection for 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers related to the smoke from burn pits, used extensively in Afghanistan and Iraq to dispose of various types of waste, many of them toxic. Further, the bill also provides new benefits for veterans who faced radiation exposure during deployments throughout the Cold War, adds hypertension and monoclonal gammopathy to the list of illnesses linked to Agent Orange exposure in the Vietnam War, expands the timeline for Gulf War medical claims and requires new medical exams for all veterans with toxic exposure claims.

SBP/DIC Offset Repeal Update
On Feb. 1, 2023, surviving spouses will receive their full Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) payment from DFAS and their full Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) payment from the VA. To help spouses who are entitled to both SBP and DIC in 2023 understand the effect of this change, DFAS will mail letters in December with individual estimates of 2023 SBP payments.
The FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was enacted with the FRA-supported repeal of the SBP/DIC offset, often referred to as the “Military Widows Tax.” The repeal was phased in over three years. In 2023, the elimination of the SBP/DIC offset will be complete and surviving spouses will receive full SBP annuity and DIC. For more information about the offset repeal members can go online.  

Marine Corps’ Birthday Celebration
NED Chris Slawinski and ADLP Theo Lawson will attend Mack’s Marines “Glory to the Corps” Birthday Celebration scheduled on Friday, 4 Nov. 2022. This year, the group will be celebrating the 247thBirthday of the Marine Corps (November 10) and the 47th gathering of Mack’s Marines. The keynote speaker at the event will be the 38th Marine Corps Commandant David H. Berger.  

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