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April 17, 2024

Toxic Exposure Screening and VA Disability Benefits 

Last updated on May 6, 2024

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If you receive VA health care, you’ll have the option for a toxic exposure screening.  

A toxic exposure screening, sometimes referred to as a VA PACT Act Screening, is vital in identifying whether you were exposed to toxins while on active duty.  

Is it required? No.  

Should you get it? Most likely. 

A toxic exposure screening helps identify whether you were exposed to toxins while on active duty, including access to ongoing care and an early diagnosis.  

If you believe your toxic exposure has caused VA-ratable conditions—you may qualify for additional VA compensation and benefits. 

This post will connect the dots between a toxic exposure screening and your VA disability benefits. We’ll also unpack what happens during a toxic exposure screening, how often you should expect it, and what questions you’ll be asked.  

Let’s get to it!  

Confused man looking at paperwork.

What is a Toxic Exposure Screening?

When the PACT ACT was passed into law, it expanded VA healthcare and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances. 

The VA began toxic exposure screenings to help identify whether a veteran had any potential toxic exposure during their military service. All veterans enrolled in VA health care can receive a toxic exposure screening. 

Potential toxic exposures include: 


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Toxic Exposure Screenings and VA Disability Benefits

If you have developed a VA disability as a result of your military toxic exposure, you could qualify for VA disability monthly compensation and benefits.  

For example, if you served in an area with open burn pits and developed a VA-ratable condition such as sinusitis or chronic rhinitis as a result—service connecting your condition would qualify you for a VA disability rating. In the example above, sinusitis and rhinitis are considered VA presumptive conditions.
While a toxic exposure screening by itself doesn’t service connect you, it can help to identify conditions related to your toxic exposure. This, in turn, can help identify potential VA disability claims you may want to consider filing. 

Doctor with clipboard asking questions to a patient.

5 Facts About Toxic Exposure Screenings

Are you looking for an overview of toxic exposure screening? Here are five facts about what to expect when you are screened for toxic exposure.  

  1. Toxic Exposure Screenings Last 5-10 Minutes 

You don’t have to block out your calendar for your toxic exposure screening. Generally, it will last 5-10 minutes as part of your annual health screening.  

You’ll be screened for various potential exposures or hazards, and depending on your responses, you may be connected to resources and support, including a review by your primary care team. 

  1. You Won’t Receive Specific Diagnostic Tests  

During your toxic exposure screening, you won’t have any specific diagnostic tests or physical exams.  

Instead, your screening helps your VA health care team be aware of potential toxin exposures during your military service.  

If you answer yes, you will be directed in the right direction with the resources and support needed to get the VA disability rating you deserve. 

  1. Your Service Connection Won’t Be Reviewed  

It’s important to understand that your service connection won’t be reviewed or reevaluated during your screening and isn’t part of the VA benefits claims process.  

Your toxic exposure screening isn’t the time to see if your military service causes your asthma.  

Instead, you are trying to figure out whether you were exposed to harmful toxins while on active duty.  

Note: If you are looking to learn how to file a VA claim, we have a slew of information on our site. You can start with the basics by reading our How to File a VA Claim (17-Step Tutorial). It tells you everything you need to know about getting the benefits and compensation you deserve.  

  1. You Can Decline Your Screening 

Yep, you read that right. You can decline your toxic exposure screening.  

Do we recommend it? Well, that’s tricky.  

If you didn’t serve time overseas, you could be toxin-free. But we’d need to know where you served, so we can’t give you a definite answer—as many military bases (including Camp LeJeune) have been linked to toxic exposure.

However, since it’s a short screening, it doesn’t hurt to ensure you don’t check the boxes your toxic exposure navigator is looking for.  

Remember, the screening can help lead you to the toxic exposure veterans benefits you deserve.  

  1. Toxic Exposure Screening is Once Every Five Years 

Generally, you only need to attend a toxic exposure screening once every five years unless you request otherwise.  

Remember, even if you don’t have a concern now, you might in the future. For example, sometimes, symptoms of toxic exposure don’t manifest when you’d expect it.  

If you want to get screened before the five-year mark, contact your local VA facility to be screened by a toxic exposure screening navigator.  

A stethoscope on top of an American flag.

VA Toxic Exposure Screening Questions

Want to mentally prepare for your VA toxic exposure screening?  

Here’s a look at some of the VA toxic exposure screening questions you might be asked during your screening: 

  1. Do you believe you experienced any toxic exposures, such as Open Burn Pits/Airborne Hazards, Gulf War-related exposures, Agent Orange, radiation, contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, or other such exposures while serving in the Armed Forces?” 
  • Yes
  • No 
  • Don’t Know  
  • Declines Screening 
  1. If yes, do you believe you were exposed to any of the following while serving in the Armed Forces? 
  • Open Burn Pits/Airborne Hazards 
  • Gulf War-related exposures 
  • Agent Orange 
  • Radiation 
  • Contaminated water at Camp Lejeune 
  • Other exposures 
  1. Does the Veteran or caregiver have follow-up questions? 
  • Health/Medical Questions 
  • Benefits/Claims Questions 
  • VA Health Care Enrollment and Eligibility Questions 
  • Registry Questions 
  • No questions at this time 

The PACT ACT: What Veterans Really Need to Know! (Video)

Toxic Exposure Screening Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I decline a toxic exposure screening?

Yes, you can decline a toxic exposure screening, but it will be offered again the following year. Remember, the screening is no longer than ten minutes and may be crucial in identifying whether you qualify for VA disability benefits.  

How can you prove toxic exposure?

If your toxic exposure has caused a presumptive condition, you will need to prove you were in an eligible location (during a specific time period).  

Remember, if you have a presumptive condition, you don’t need to prove your service caused your condition. Instead, you only need to meet the service requirements for the presumptive.  

How can I schedule a VA toxic exposure screening?

You can schedule a toxic exposure screening by speaking to your primary care provider or a toxic exposure screener at your local VA.  

In addition, you can schedule online or call a facility listed below and schedule a Toxic Exposure Screening appointment. 

If you are in the Jonathan M. Wainwright VA catchment area, you can contact a toxic exposure screening navigator at: 


Most veterans are underrated for their disabilities and, therefore, not getting their due compensation. At VA Claims Insider, we educate you on how to take control of the claims process so you may get the rating and compensation you’re owed by law. If you’ve filed your VA disability claim and have been denied or have received a low rating—or you’re unsure how to get started—reach out to us!  

Our process takes the guesswork out of filing a VA disability claim and supports you in building a fully developed claim (FDC)—so you may increase your rating FAST! Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call. Learn what you’ve been missing—so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation YOU DESERVE! 

Kelly Olone

Kelly Olone

Kelly Olone is a military spouse who earned her degree in Psychology from Florida International University. After working in the non-profit sector for several years, she turned to her passion for writing. She aims to contribute to a better understanding of the valuable benefits that veterans deserve. As a mom, Kelly navigates the delicate balance between deadlines and bedtime stories with finesse. 

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