NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

COSTS LOOM IN DISABILITY CLAIMS

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.

For text (subscription required):

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/11/washington/11veterans.html

 

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