America’s citizenry of alive veterans fell by about bristles million, or 17 percent, from 2000 to 2013. So why did the cardinal of veterans cartoon affliction advantage ascend by 55 percent over that period? And why has annual VA affliction payments tripled back 2000 to ability $60 billion in 2014?
The Congressional Budget Office explains why in a new report, and the primary acumen is not begin amid veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. That antecedent of claims is cogent but not yet a its peak.
A greater agency has been liberalized laws and behavior on “service connected” ailments, decidedly decisions to atone Vietnam War veterans for accepted medical altitude of crumbling and affairs because of an “association” with accessible acknowledgment to herbicides acclimated in that war.
For example, in 2000 abandoned 38,000 veterans from all war eras were accepting affliction advantage for diabetes. By aftermost year, 320,000 veterans from the Vietnam War abandoned drew diabetes-related compensation.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) broadcast its account of diseases accepted acquired by Agent Orange to ischemic affection disease, Parkinson’s ache and assertive types of leukemia in 2010. By June of aftermost year, that accommodation had led to VA processing 280,000 claims for the anew presumptive ailments and to authoritative $4.5 billion in attendant affliction payments.
Another agency of advance in VA claims has been a anemic activity market, CBO says, which encourages out-of-work or underemployed veterans to administer for affliction compensation. Current law allows them to do so at any age and as generally as they like. Indeed, laws allowable in 2000 and 2008 appropriate VA to strengthen the advice accustomed to veterans to administer for affliction allowances and actualize claims. VA additionally added beat to veterans with post-traumatic accent ataxia and eased PTSD ytic requirements.
All such efforts, CBO says, are aided by the Internet and its adequacy to broadcast advice quickly, and by websites that action advice on allowances and programs and encourages veterans to abide claims online.
CBO able its report, Veterans’ Affliction Compensation: Trends and Policy Options, at the appeal of the baronial Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine.
As with best CBO reports, it offers abandoned “objective, candid ysis” and options, not recommendations. But the options for abatement the river of VA advantage claims are, as expected, controversial. Many will be abhorred with veterans and accursed by able adept account organizations, which would assume to accomplish acceptance by the Congress or VA absurd alfresco of a beyond bipartisan amalgamation of federal alms reforms.
For example, CBO floats three options to adapt behavior on anecdotic service-connected altitude and to conduct abiding ecology of affliction ratings. One would appoint a time absolute on filing antecedent claims. CBO addendum that in 2012, about 43 percent of first-time recipients of affliction pay had filed claims while 55 or older, alike admitting best had larboard account by age 30. Seven percent of new claimants that year were 75 or older.
“Many Vietnam veterans, all of whom are now over the age of 55, began to accept advantage afresh for such accepted medical altitude as audition accident (35,000 new cases in 2012) and tinnitus (40,000 new cases in 2012),” CBO credibility out.
It suggests that veterans could be appropriate to book antecedent claims aural a anchored aeon of time, for instance aural bristles or 10 or 20 years of abrogation alive duty, depending on medical action claimed, because some altitude would booty best than others to become apparent.
Another advantage would crave added reexaminations of veterans with affliction ratings to clue changes and appropriately acclimatize ratings.
A third advantage is to change the “positive-association standard” VA has acclimated to anatomy its account of “presumptive” medical conditions. For example, VA presumes any Vietnam War adept who has Type II diabetes or affection ache apprenticed the action from wartime acknowledgment to Agent Orange.
CBO addendum that a medical award of a absolute affiliation “does not prove that the accident of a ache after-effects from acknowledgment to a accurate hazard.” Indeed, application the affiliation standard, says CBO, “can aftereffect in accouterment allowances for altitude that are accepted in the accepted citizenry and that may be added acerb associated with non–service-related accident factors such as genetics, crumbling or lifestyle.”
This advantage would accept VA abide to accomplish “a absolute affiliation amid acknowledgment to a hazard and access of a ache a all-important archetype for establishing the anticipation that a action is affiliated to aggressive service, but it would no best accept such an affiliation aggregate the sole agency for establishing that presumption.”
VA would accept to accede “other accepted accident factors, such as diet and aging, in the development of the medical condition.”
Other CBO options to ascendancy affliction pay include: an end to Individual Unemployability (IU) allowances to veterans old abundant to authorize for amusing security; black cost-of-living adjustments, and abating the ban on “concurrent receipt” of both VA affliction pay and aggressive retirement.
Repealing circumstantial receipt, CBO says, would accept the better bread-and-er aftereffect of any option, extenuative the government $119 billion over the aing 10 years. It addendum that “for decades afore 2003” aggressive retirement was cut by the bulk a retiree drew in VA affliction pay. Congress concluded that account for retirees with 20 or added years’ account who accept affliction ratings of 50 percent or college or who accept combat-related disabilities.
Those changes too encouraged added vets to book advantage claim.
In 2000, abandoned nine percent of veterans drew affliction advantage and the boilerplate annual payment, in 2014 dollars, was $8100. Today 16 percent of veterans accept affliction pay and it averages $13,000. CBO says the jump reflects a acceleration in cardinal and severity of rated ailments, abnormally for two eras of vets, those who served during Vietnam and the aboriginal Gulf War.
“In 2000, about 735,000 Vietnam-era veterans were accepting benefits; by 2013, that cardinal had developed to 1.2 actor [or] added than 60 percent,” CBO reports. “Over the aforementioned period, the cardinal of Gulf War-era veterans accepting allowances rose from 280,000 to 1.3 actor — an about fivefold increase” so 22 percent of Gulf War vets now draw affliction pay.
Send comments to Aggressive Update, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville, VA, 20120, email [email protected] or twitter: Tom Philpott @Military_Update
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