NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 12, 2006

Nearly one in five soldiers leaving the military after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan has been at least partly disabled as a result of service, says Scott Shane in the New York Times.

According to documents of the Department of Veterans Affairs:

  • Around 30 percent of veterans were found to be disabled.
  • One in 10 recipients of disability compensation was found to be 100 percent disabled.
  • Payments run from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000 a month depending on the severity of the disability.

The number of veterans granted disability compensation, more than 100,000 to date,  suggests -- if current proportions hold up -- that taxpayers have only begun to pay the long-term financial cost of the two conflicts.  Experts say the total could reach as high as 400,000 claims granted. 

In addition, in recent years, disability compensation programs have seen a number of changes that are likely to increase the filing of claims by veterans:

  • Congress told the Department of Veterans Affairs last year to advertise the availability of compensation to veterans in states where payments had been disproportionately low.
  • As a result, the VA has predicted the changes will attract nearly 100,000 new applicants.

But not every service member is finding it easy to collect compensation, says Shane:

  • Some 37 percent of active duty veterans have filed for disability compensation, compared with 20 percent of those who served with National Guard or Reserve units.
  • Meanwhile, 18 percent of claims filed by Guard and Reserve soldiers are denied, compared with 8 percent of those filed by active duty troops.

Source: Scott Shane, "Data Suggests Vast Costs Loom in Disability Claims," New York Times, October 11, 2006.

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