The PACT Act, VA Disability, and your FAA Medical

The PACT Act, VA Disability, and your FAA Medical

We have answered many questions about the PACT Act and its impact on VA disability and FAA medical certification. In order to receive VA disability benefits for any condition, you must establish that the condition began during or was caused or made worse during your military service. 

That is easy for conditions that are well documented in your military medical record. But, what about conditions that do not become apparent until well after your active duty separation. Vietnam veterans confronted this challenge with conditions related to Agent Orange exposure. 

They eventually established policy mandating that certain medical conditions would automatically be considered service connected for veterans who served in specific geographic areas during specific times.   

The PACT Act builds on that policy to add more conditions and more service locations to account for burn pit and other toxic exposures of the post Gulf War era. Veterans who served in certain areas during certain times are considered “presumptively” exposed. If they develop any associated medical conditions, those conditions will “presumptively” become service connected disabilities. That holds true regardless of when the condition is diagnosed.    

Presumptive disabilities

The following conditions are considered presumptive based on the PACT Act:

  • Brain cancer
  • Gastrointestinal cancer of any type
  • Glioblastoma
  • Head cancer of any type
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lymphatic cancer of any type
  • Lymphoma of any type
  • Melanoma
  • Neck cancer of any type
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Reproductive cancer of any type
  • Respiratory (breathing-related) cancer of any type
  • Asthma that was diagnosed after service
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic rhinitis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
  • Emphysema
  • Granulomatous disease
  • Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
  • Pleuritis
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Sarcoidosis

Presumptive exposure

For exposure criteria, it is considered presumptive exposure if you served in any of the following location:

On or after September 11, 2001:

  • Afghanistan
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Syria
  • Uzbekistan
  • Yemen
  • The airspace above any of these locations

On or after August 2, 1991:

  • Bahrain
  • Iraq
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • The airspace above any of these locations [1]

Do I get more disability?

Referring back to the original definition of a VA disability, you must currently have the medical condition and the exposure. If you have the condition, but the VA previously considered it not service connected in your case, then this has the potential to change your VA disability. But if you do not have the medical condition then you will not get the condition simply because you had the exposure. If you have been accurately disclosing your medical history on your MedXPress application, it should not impact your FAA medical certificate. 

The FAA doesn’t actually care about your VA disability. They care about your medical conditions and how you are doing at the time of your FAA exam. You are required to disclose your medical history to the FAA regardless of your VA disability status. If the PACT Act allows you to start receiving disability benefits for a condition you already have and, therefore, have already been disclosing to the FAA, it will not affect your medical certificate. 

If you have not been disclosing the condition to the FAA, that is another problem. The PACT Act has nothing to do with it.   

Wingman Med recommendations

If you have a condition listed in the PACT Act that the VA deemed “not service connected” on a previous claim, you should file a new claim to have that condition “service connected.” Similarly, if the condition developed after leaving the military and you have never included it in a disability claim, you should file a new claim. 

The PACT Act only applies to you if you have an exposure and a condition that it lists. If you have one, but not the other, there is no need to file a new VA claim. 

Regardless of the PACT Act, you should already be reporting the condition to the FAA. A change in VA disability status should have virtually no impact on your FAA medical certification.


[1] “The PACT Act and your VA benefits,” Veterans Affairs, Nov. 08, 2022. (accessed Nov. 19, 2022).

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