Report Says That VA’s Disability Benefit System Needs Major Overhaul

The Department of Veterans Affairs should overhaul its outdated system of compensating former military personnel for disabling injuries they suffered during their service, the Institute of Medicine recommended yesterday.

The current system dates, in part, to the World War II era. It is out of step with modern medical advances in diagnosing, understanding and treating conditions such as traumatic brain injury, the institute said in a report requested by the federal Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission. The institute is a branch of the National Academies, an organization chartered by Congress to advise the government on scientific and technical issues. The disability benefits commission, created by Congress in 2003 to study the VA compensation system, is expected to issue a report this year.

For years, the VA rating system has been criticized for bureaucratic delays and disability ratings that many veterans say are lower than they should be, which means they get less compensation. The subject is getting renewed attention as veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan return home with post-traumatic stress disorder, brain damage, amputations and other serious injuries and conditions.

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