The numbers are in for veterans’ disability benefits distributed over the past decade, and the costs have more than doubled since 2000.
A recent report from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) shows that in 2000 the government issued $14.8 billion in veterans’ disability benefits, and $39.4 billion in 2011 – a $24.6 billion increase in just 11 years. The VA reports that 3.4 million of the nation’s 22.2 million veterans were disabled during their military service.
Why More Veterans Are Drawing Disability Benefits
As noted by a recent USA Today article, VA officials and others mention several contributing reasons for the increase in veterans’ disability claims:
- Soldiers being sent on multiple deployments.
- More veterans are being made aware of their right to seek disability benefits.
- Ailments associated with Agent Orange and Gulf War syndrome are better defined and identified as conditions for veterans’ disability ratings.
- Service-related disabilities worsen with age and more WWII veterans are reaching this stage in their lives.
- Rule changes for diagnosing and classifying service-connected Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Advances in medical care have also improved diagnosis of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The list of medical conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure and the toxins in the Gulf War deployment areas has been expanded over the years as more research comes to light, which may allow more veterans’ disability claims to be approved.
Age Can Be a Factor for Those Who Seek Veterans’ Disability Benefits
The younger generation of veterans is more aware of its rights to compensation for disabling conditions developed due to military service. Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans seem to be more likely to seek their benefits thanks to more VA outreach and a diminishing stigma over seeking help for combat injuries.
The older generation of veterans may now be more proactive in seeking veterans’ disability claims due to outreach initiatives designed to inform older veterans of their right to compensation. As veterans increase in age, old “war wounds” that were previously ignored may worsen, prompting them to finally seek care and compensation for their service-connected disabilities.
Veterans’ Disability Benefits Are a Right for All Veterans
Any veteran who has ended their military service with a discharge other than dishonorable may be eligible for veterans’ disability benefits if they have a service-connected disability. Compensation for disabling conditions is dependent on the veterans’ disability rating which assesses the severity of the condition and how it impairs the veteran’s life.
When filing a claim for veterans’ disability benefits, you must prove your military service and show evidence that an injury occurred during this time as a result of your service, or that you were exposed to harmful environmental conditions that later caused a disabling disease.
If you are a disabled veteran and have been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for VA disability benefits, an attorney from the Law Offices of Veterans Help Group in South Florida can help. Contact our veterans’ disability firm – 1-855-855-8992.