VA To Eliminate 7 CompensableDisabilities
December 12, 2016
Not allservice-connected medical conditions and injuries are incurred or exacerbatedin the performance of military duties. For example, a qualifying injury canoccur when a service member was at home or on leave, and a qualifyingmedical condition, such as multiple sclerosis, can develop independently of aservice member’s military duties. In 2015, VA paid 716,000 veterans a total of$3.7 billion, the Congressional Budget Office estimates, to compensate forseven of the medical conditions that, according to the GovernmentAccountability Office (GAO), military service is unlikely to cause oraggravate. Those conditions are arterioscleroticheart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Crohn’sdisease, hemorrhoids, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, and uterine fibroids.
Beginningin January 2018,this option would cease veterans’ disability compensation for those sevenmedical conditions GAO identified. Under the option, veterans now receivingcompensation for those conditions would have their compensation reduced oreliminated, and veterans who applied for compensation for those conditions inthe future would not be eligible for it. The option would not alter DoD’sdisability compensation system, which focuses on fitness for military dutiesrather than compensation for disabilities.
An argument insupport of this option is that it would make the disability compensation systemfor military veterans more comparable to civilian systems. Few civilianemployers offer long-term disability benefits, and among those that do,benefits do not typically compensate individuals for all medical problems thatdeveloped during employment.
An argumentagainst this option is that military service is not like a civilian job;instead, it confers unique benefits to society and imposes extraordinary riskson service members. By that logic, the pay and benefits that service membersreceive should reflect the hardships of military life, including compensatingveterans who become disabled in any way during their military service.
Source: U.S. Congressional Budget Office
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