Study Shows that Veterans Denied Disability Benefits Not Healthier than Counterparts
A new Veterans Benefits Administration study investigated the differences between veterans awarded disability benefits, and those who sought benefits, but were denied, and determined there was little difference in actual health or injury rates.
“A veteran seeking VA disability compensation benefits must first file a claim. In evaluating the claim, a review team gathers medical and military service-related evidence,” the study reads. “In the process, the VA confirms the current disability, and subsequently determines whether the existing disability is linked to military service. If so, the VA assigns a combined disability rating and establishes a date of award with payment based on the rating. For those veterans awarded service connection, the VA can grant a full award, or a partial award. If no service connection is found, the claim is denied.”
“Studies of military veterans seeking U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation suggest that those “denied” (“denied applicants”) may be as impaired as those “awarded” (“awarded applicants”), and likely have critical, albeit unmet health care needs,” says a study published by the Military Surgeons of the US. This trend is troubling, because it shows inconsistencies in the benefits system that harm those it is designed to help. It is critical that these veterans can obtain medical treatment for their conditions.
In the midst of a need for medical treatment, an unrelated controversy concerning misuse of compensation for VA employees recently arose. “If we do not aggressively shed light on issues we uncover,” said Representative Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican, “V.A. will just sweep them under the rug for an extended period of time and wait for public attention to go elsewhere.”
“Veterans ‘denied’ VA disability compensation may comprise a vulnerable subgroup of veterans in need of supportive services,” the report concluded. Although they added that “Such needs may be addressed through evidence-based targeted outreach programs,” there are currently no such support structures in place, except for a smattering of nonprofits across the country that offer legal help.