Flaws discovered in disability benefits

By Tom Philpott: Military Update A commission conducting the first major review of veterans’ disability benefits in 50 years was warned at its inaugural meeting that perhaps too many veterans have been deemed “unemployable,” which raises their compensation to the level of 100-percent disabled veterans. Renee L. Szybala, director for operations of VA’s Compensation and […]

In wartime, all vets not equal

By Tom Philpott Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., new chairman of House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, says the medical and rehabilitation needs of a new generation of war veterans leave him more certain than ever that Congress erred in 1996 when it opened VA healthcare to any veteran willing to pay modest fees. “While some veterans’ organizations […]

Retirees will benefit from new laws

By Tom Philpott When legislative language misfires, Congress can intend to do one and instead does another. That seems to have occurred twice last October with passage of the 2005 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It likely reshaped benefits, in unintended ways, for two groups of disabled retirees. One provision, which executive-branch lawyers continue to […]

Military disabled to get full benefits

By Tom Philpott Pentagon lawyers are studying the 2005 National Defense Authorization Act to determine if a provision to restore full military retirement to 100-percent disabled retirees next month can be interpreted to apply to 28,000 retirees who have lesser disabilities but are deemed unemployable. At stake for these retirees is, on average, more than […]

By Tom Phlipott Pentagon lawyers are studying the 2005 National Defense Authorization Act to determine if a provision to restore full military retirement to 100-percent disabled retirees next month can be interpreted to apply to 28,000 retirees who have lesser disabilities but are deemed unemployable. At stake for these retirees is, on average, more than […]

Location could affect disability claims

Tom Phillpot: Military Update More than two years after congressional auditors scored it as a problem, the Department of Veterans Affairs still has no way to assess whether its 57 regional offices are consistent in deciding disability claims for veterans suffering from the same type and severity of impairment. The Government Accountability Office, in recent […]

Finding CRSC eligibility worth the effort

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Retired Army 1st Sgt. Arthur C. Thornburgh of Ewell, Ala., figures the Department of Defense owes him $20,000 so far in Combat-Related Special Compensation. The missing payments, he said with evident frustration, go back to June 1, 2003, the day he applied and also the day the CRSC program began. […]

New plan in works for offset retired pay

Tom Philpott With fewer strings attached this time to avoid the ire of veterans’ groups, House leaders are nearing a new deal with the Bush administration to end for many military retirees the offset in retired pay that occurs when they draw disability pay from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The deal would cost an […]

Congress should end veterans’ disability tax

Freedom Newspapers Congress may be close to correcting an unfair policy that reduces the retirement pay of disabled military veterans by the amount they receive in service disability payments. If those published reports are true, that would be good news for retired veterans who devoted and risked their lives to preserve and protect our freedoms […]

Compensation for combat injuries to be given

Tom Philpott Recent events show a war can be waged and won in less time than it takes the Defense Department to reach final decisions on how to implement the new Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC). But if Defense officials are three weeks behind in finalizing rules and publishing CRSC applications, they also are adopting a […]