Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Veterans’ Disability Compensation: Trends and Policy Options

CBO Report, August 7, 2014: “The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) oversees a disability program that makes payments through the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) to compensate U.S. veterans for medical conditions or injuries that are incurred or aggravated during active duty in the military, although not necessarily during the performance of military duties. Compensable service-connected disabilities range widely in severity and type, including the loss of one or more limbs, migraines, scars, and hypertension. Payments are meant to offset the average earnings lost as a result of those conditions, whether or not a particular veteran’s condition has reduced his or her earnings or interfered with his or her daily functioning. Disability compensation is not means-tested; veterans who work are eligible for benefits, and, in fact, most working-age veterans who receive disability benefits are employed. Payments are in the form of monthly annuities and typically continue until death. Adjusted for inflation to 2014 dollars, VA disability compensation to veterans amounted to $54 billion in 2013, or about 70 percent of VBA’s total mandatory spending, according to analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The remainder of the department’s mandatory spending that year was for programs that provide veterans with housing assistance, education, vocational training, and other assistance. In 2013, about 3.5 million of the nation’s 22 million veterans received disability compensation benefits. (Those benefits are distinct from the health benefits provided through the Veterans Health Administration [VHA].) From 2000 to 2013, the number of veterans who were receiving disability payments rose by almost 55 percent, from 2.3 million to 3.5 million, despite a 17 percent decline in the total population of living veterans, from nearly 27 million to 22 million. In 2000, 9 percent of all veterans received disability benefits; by 2013, that proportion had risen to 16 percent. Over the same period, the average real (inflation-adjusted) annualized disability payment also rose by nearly 60 percent—from $8,100 in 2000 to $12,900 in 2013—consistent with increases in the average number and average severity of compensable disabilities per veteran.”


Sorry, comments are closed for this post.