The Department of Veterans Affairs has finally made the sensible decision to simplify the eligibility for veterans to obtain disability compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  This is a move that we have championed for the past three years, since the medical community has confirmed that returning veterans are suffering from an “epidemic” of PTSD.  We applaud the VA for making this change.

The previous VA system had forced veterans to prove that their PTSD was triggered by  a specific traumatic incident during service, which was often difficult or impossible given the chaos that typically surrounds an IED explosion or other traumatic episode.  Additionally, one-third of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have served multiple deployments and their PTSD is cumulative and cannot be easily traced to a specific incident.  The immediate effect of this change will enable veterans to claim benefits more quickly and easily and with less delay.

The change will accelerate the payment of benefits to hundreds of thousands of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, and it will enable tens of thousands more, who were previously ineligible to receive benefits (because they couldn’t pinpoint the source of their PTSD)  to receive benefits.  The medical community estimates that 15-20% of veterans are suffering from PTSD; therefore this cohort will now receive a monthly cash benefit.   The long-term cost of this was already anticipated in our cost estimates, as we had expected that all veterans with PTSD would eventually receive compensation.  However, this change will accelerate the uptake of benefits and should therefore add at least $10 billion to the long-term cost of veterans disability compensation.

See Q&A on this issue here.


Comments are closed.