The Deadline Is Approaching for PACT Act Claims and Lawsuits over Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

A welcome sign stands outside of the Holcomb Gate on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Jan. 8, 2008. (Marine Corps)
A welcome sign stands outside of the Holcomb Gate on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Jan. 8, 2008. (Marine Corps)

The window is closing for military veterans, families and others to file administrative claims and lawsuits under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which provides compensation for harm linked to the contaminated water supply at the North Carolina base from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Those who believe they were affected by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune have until Aug. 10 to file claims or lawsuits against the U.S. government.

However, veterans should be aware that any benefits they've already received related to the exposure, such as from the Department of Veterans Affairs, may count against their settlement or award (though not necessarily), and attorneys may charge as much as 25% of the award amount.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act -- another name for Section 804 of the PACT Act -- became law in 2022. The PACT Act, short for the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, provides compensation and medical benefits for injuries and illnesses that may have resulted from toxic exposures connected to military service.

The PACT Act presumes that certain medical conditions are service-connected as long as the service member in question served in a certain place at a certain time.

The section of the PACT Act that addresses Camp Lejeune claims and lawsuits, however, requires a greater burden of proof than other instances of toxic exposure. But the Navy and Justice Department created an alternative to litigation, called the "elective option," that presumes a connection.

To qualify for a settlement, a lawsuit or claim must be filed within two years of the enactment of the PACT Act, hence the Aug. 10 deadline.

Those filing a claim who use the elective option and qualify will receive settlements calculated according to a formula. Those whose claims are denied or delayed -- or whose illness isn't on the list -- and who instead file a lawsuit face a greater burden of proof showing that the water contamination likely led to their illness.

Dates of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

The relief provided in the PACT Act is available to those Marine Corps personnel and others exposed to Camp Lejeune's contaminated water supply from Aug. 1, 1953, to Dec. 31, 1987, when the water contained various toxic chemicals.

Who Is Eligible Under the PACT Act

Veterans, family members, civilian employees and others exposed for at least 30 days from Aug. 1, 1953, to Dec. 31, 1987, may qualify to file a claim or lawsuit if they were diagnosed with a presumptive health condition or another they can show was, more likely than not, the result of contamination. In utero exposure qualifies, and if an individual died of one of the conditions, a legal representative may qualify to file a wrongful death claim.

Because the law requires that a legal claim "accrue" prior to the enactment of the PACT Act, a medical diagnosis must predate the signing of the law Aug. 10, 2022. A claim or lawsuit must be filed within a two-year window of the law's signing; or within six months after the denial of a claim.

A claimant may not file a lawsuit until after a claim has been denied or after not receiving a decision for more than six months.

'Elective Option' Illnesses and Settlement Amounts

The Navy and Justice Department announced a process for expediting certain claims in September, establishing a reduced burden of proof by presuming that nine illnesses are connected to the contaminated water.

Within the "elective option," or EO, two tiers of illnesses -- aka "qualifying injuries" -- may qualify claimants for an expedited, standard settlement within the EO. The tier and the length of time a claimant was exposed to Camp Lejeune's contaminated water supply determine the settlement amount.

Tier 1 Qualifying Injury


  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Bladder cancer

Standard settlements:

  • 30-364 days of exposure: $150,000
  • 1-5 years of exposure: $300,000
  • More than 5 years of exposure: $450,000

Tier 2 Qualifying Injury


  • Multiple myeloma
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Kidney disease/end-stage renal disease
  • Systemic sclerosis/systemic scleroderma


  • 30-364 days of exposure: $100,000
  • 1-5 years of exposure: $250,000
  • More than 5 years of exposure: $400,000

Claimants who file a complete and accurate claim under the EO can expect payment within 60 days, according to the Department of the Navy.

Non-Elective Option Settlements and Lawsuits Require More Proof

For veterans and others whose illnesses aren't on the list for the elective option, the burden of proof is higher, whether filing a non-EO administrative claim or, once a claim is denied, filing a lawsuit.

Only after the government denies a claim does the Camp Lejeune Justice Act provide for the claimant to sue and require proof not only of exposure to the contaminated water -- to a more specific level than the basewide assumption provided in the EO -- but also "sufficient to conclude that a causal relationship is at least as likely as not" as well as ruling out other possible causes.

VA Benefits for Camp Lejeune Health Conditions

The Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 first established eligibility for toxic-water benefits from the VA. Veterans with illnesses presumed to be connected to the water contamination qualify for disability benefits and/or health care from the VA, and family members may also qualify for health care.

Receiving a settlement won't affect any benefits a veteran or family member might qualify for, but receiving benefits might affect the final amount awarded in a claim or lawsuit.

For more on VA benefits for Camp Lejeune health conditions, go here.

Amount Received in Related Benefits Subtracted from Non-Elective Option Settlements

One advantage of the elective option, according to the government, is its exclusion from the part of the law that reduces settlement payments according to the amount of any related benefits received.

That means if a claimant accepts an EO settlement of $100,000, that amount won't be reduced by the amount of any benefits from the VA, Social Security Administration or Medicare otherwise received related to the illness in question.

Those who settle via a non-EO administrative claim, however, or via a court award in a lawsuit can expect their settlement to shrink "by the amount of any related disability award, payment, or benefit ... provided to you or your legal representative," according to the VA. Unrelated benefits for other conditions or disabilities won't affect a settlement or award.

Through "historic ... data sharing agreements," the Navy's Camp Lejeune Claims Task Force "is able to review information in VA's claims processing system to more rapidly access information needed to adjudicate claims," VA Press Secretary Terrence Hayes told in a statement.

Attorneys' Fees and a Fraud Warning

The Justice Department announced legal justification in September for capping the fees that attorneys can charge to pursue claims or lawsuits under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.

Legal representation is not required in order to file a claim.

Citing the Federal Tort Claims Act, the Justice Department capped attorneys' fees for administrative settlements at 20% of the award. Attorneys' fees for settlements of cases in litigation cannot exceed 25%.

The Justice Department and Navy have warned possible claimants to be wary of scammers asking for money or personal information related to a Camp Lejeune claim. They said to report suspected scams to their attorneys, if applicable, or to the Navy's Camp Lejeune Claims Unit at

How to File a Claim

The Navy says claimants will "soon" be able to file a claim via an online portal, but in the meantime, they're asked to download the Camp Lejeune Justice Act claim form and follow the instructions to email it to, which is also the address to contact for more information about filing by a different means.

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