Disability rating reform troubling

Most of a two-hour hearing last week of the House veteran affairs’ subcommittee focused on VA’s mammoth effort to apply current medical science and revise the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities, or VASRD, by 2016. Disability evaluation boards have used the VASRD since the end of World War II to compensate veterans for average impairment […]

‘Quality of life’ benefit falls short

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Disabled veterans were thrilled in 2007 when the Veterans Disability Benefits Commission asked Congress to enact an immediate “quality of life” increase to disability payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The special increase, said VDBC commissioners, should be across the board, benefiting all veterans with service-connected health conditions, and […]

New Agent Orange claims deadline near

By Tom Philpott: Military Update The Department of Veterans Affairs likely will begin in October to pay thousands of disability claims to Vietnam veterans with ischemic heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and B-cell leukemia — illnesses newly associated with exposure to defoliants, including Agent Orange, used in that war. A 60-day countdown to the day that […]

DoD disability board understaffed

A special board established by Congress to review and raise any low-ball disability ratings the services awarded to injured or ailing members since 9-11 needs four times as many physicians as it has now to ensure timely action on a rising number of applications, says the board’s top officer. Michael F. LoGrande, president of the […]

PTSD disability ratings increased

By Tom Philpott: PNT columnist More than 4300 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who were diagnosed in service as suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but got low military disability ratings, have won an agreement with the Department of Defense to upgrade those ratings retroactively to 50 percent. The higher rating will represent an important win […]

Disabled severance pay adjusted

By Tom Philpott A few hard-nosed choices by the Bush administration in implementing laws to help disabled service members are being rolled back under congressional pressure and a new team of Pentagon policymakers. One regulation change soon to take effect will allow more disability severance pay recipients to keep those lump sum payments without worry […]

Musician/congressman moves disability bill forward

By Tom Philpott Disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs would reach veterans sooner, and with special swiftness for severely wounded veterans and their families, under legislation to upgrade the VA disability rating process unanimously passed by the House on July 30. The Veterans Disability Benefits Claims Modernization Act (HR 5892) is the first […]

Rules relaxed for combat-related disability

By Tom New groups of disabled retirees will be able this year to draw Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) or higher amounts of Concurrent Retired Disability Payments (CRDP) under legislation passed in January. Defense Finance and Accounting Service officials explained in an interview how they are implementing the changes. Again it will involve DFAS and the […]

Agent Orange disability appeal denied

By Tom Philpott A federal appeals court has delivered a stinging defeat to “Blue Water” sailors and Coast Guard veterans of the Vietnam War who have been fighting for disability compensation from illnesses they contend resulted from shipboard exposure to deadly herbicides including Agent Orange. A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for […]

Retro pay reaches $31,000, averages $1,500

By Tom Philpott : Military Update Two months into a year-long review of pay records and disability compensation histories for 140,000 military retirees have produced a total of $45 million in back pay to 31,000 disabled retirees, say officials in charge. The lump-sum payments average about $1,500. Ten retirees have received more than $25,000 each, […]

Lump sum payment may be improvement

By Tom Philpott: Military Update The Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission has examined and rejected a proposal that the VA begin offering veterans with lower-rated disabilities a lump-sum payment instead of lifetime monthly compensation. The 13-member commission reached its decision unanimously last week at a public meeting in Washington, D.C. It did so after being briefed […]

Disability helps specialist relate

1159331220-9-27-john-prater-web.jpg

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom Newspapers Instead of settling into retirement and putting up his feet after 26 years in the Air Force, John Prater headed to the college classroom. However, somewhere along the way he began to suffer the effects of memory loss brought on by a chemical imbalance in his brain. Extensive time at […]

Choice can work against veterans

By Tom Phillpot: Military Update The Senate voted on Aug. 3 to allow paid attorneys, for the first time in over a century, to represent veterans in filing disability claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs. “It’s like inviting the wolf into the chicken house,” said retired Air Force Lt. Col. Charley Burch. Burch, 74, […]

Veteran compensation needs overhaul

By Tom Philpott: Military Update The Department of Veterans Affairs mismanages its program for rating disabled veterans as “unemployable,” according to a new report by congressional auditors. Because of weak oversight of Individual Unemployability (IU) benefits, some veterans get more compensation than warranted, and the VA is ineffective in moving seriously disabled veterans toward productive […]