UPDATE: Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Lawsuits
The DisabledVeterans.org blog reminds veterans about possible benefits offset
The Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022 (PACT Act) that the Biden administration signed into law in August 2022 does include the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. This act made it possible for veterans and affected civilians to receive compensation for injuries due to exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987.
Prior to the PACT Act, the Federal Tort Claims Act and 38 USC § 1151 established that veterans cannot collect twice for the same injury. Therefore it is possible that an offset to compensation through the VA, Medicare, or Medicaid will apply if the medical malpractice claims against the Department of Veteran Affairs is successful. This is also true for civilians.
It’s not clear how the safeguards against “double dipping” will be applied, but the PACT Act states:
2) Health and disability benefits relating to water exposure–Any award made to an individual, or legal representative of an individual, under this section shall be offset by the amount of any disability award, payment, or benefit provided to the individual, or legal representative–
(i) any program under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs;
(ii) the Medicare program under title XVIII of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395 et seq.); or
(iii) the Medicaid program under title XIX of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1396 et seq.); and
(B) in connection with health care or a disability relating to exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune.
PACT Act § 804(e)(2).
It’s possible that the offset provision in the PACT Act will incorporate benefits and health care already paid plus future projected benefits and health care services. If a veteran is awarded compensation through litigation, the possible PACT Act offset would not apply to any awards for pain and suffering and loss of income. However, until clear guidance comes from the VA and Social Security on how they plan to implement the offset, it’s speculation at this point.