The number of veterans who have applied for and been awarded disability benefits just keeps going up.  It is far in excess of our original predictions.  The latest report from the Veterans Benefits Administration shows that only 1.8% of disability claims evaluated to date have been denied.  The other 98.2% of claims have been approved.  This brings the total number of GWOT veterans who have been “service-connected” for disabilities to 810,307  Nearly 50% of all veterans have filed claims.

  • Total Living GWOT Veterans:  1,847,047
  • Total who have filed disability claims:  914,193
  • Total who have been awarded disability benefits:  810,307
  • Total claims denied: 15,105
  • Pending claims:  168,702



Linda Bilmes new paper revises war costs upwards based on increased utilization of medical care by active duty troops, families and veterans,  as well as increasing volume and complexity of disability claims by veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Read the paper:


The latest disability benefits costs are even higher than we predicted.   And this will grow higher, because more than 700,000 new veterans have already claimed, with an average of 8 conditions per claim.

A new study from CBO confirms what we wrote in 2008 and subsequently — that the volume of veterans seeking medical care from the VA, and the cost of treating them, is driving enormous budget increases at VA, in part due to the expense of treating troops with PTSD, and/or TBI.

Highlights of the CBO Study

Through September 2011, about 740,000 veterans from overseas contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan had been treated by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). That number is slightly more than half of all recent veterans eligible for care by VHA.

Average Costs for All of VHA's Health Care Provided to OCO Patients VHA spent about $2 billion in fiscal year 2010 to provide medical care to all recent combat veterans.

One in Four Recent Combat Veterans Treated at VHA from 2004 to 2009 Had a Diagnosis of PTSD; 7 Percent Had a Diagnosis of TBI

Using data for recent veterans treated by VHA from 2004 to 2009, CBO found that:

  • 21 percent were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but not traumatic brain injury (TBI),
  • 2 percent were diagnosed with TBI but not PTSD,
  • An additional 5 percent had both PTSD and TBI, and
  • The remaining 72 percent had neither diagnosis.

Treating Recent Combat Veterans Diagnosed with PTSD, TBI, or Both Was Much More Expensive Than Treating Other Recent Veterans

Read all:

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