CBO Makes Recommendations to Lower Payouts
By USVCP Staff Writers
November 18, 2018
In August 2014, Stars & Stripes reporter, Tom Philpott, published a scathing article about a report released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The report highlighted three areas being considered as potential options and opportunities for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reduce compensation payouts or not allow them to be initiated altogether. The report also suggested ways in which a veteran’s disability would be actively monitored so that any opportunity to reduce a disability rating could be seized and acted upon immediately.
For example, CBO suggested three (3) options that would alter policies on identifying service-connected conditions and to conduct long-term monitoring of disability ratings.
1. Impose a time limit on filing initial claims. This would reduce the number of veterans eligible to file by more than half. CBO reported in 2012, roughly 43% of first-time recipients of disability pay had filed claims at age 55 or older. Another 7% of new claimants that year were 75 year-old or older.
2. Veterans be required to file initial claims within a fixed period of time, for instance within 5 or 10 or 20 years of leaving active duty.
3. Require more disability reexaminations of veterans with disability ratings to track changes and thus adjust ratings to a lower rating.
Yet, another controversial option would be to change the “positive-association standard” VA has used to form its list of “presumptive” medical conditions. For example, VA presumes any Vietnam War veteran who has Type II diabetes or heart disease contracted the condition from wartime exposure to Agent Orange.
According to Philpott, “CBO finds that a medical condition with a positive association does not prove that the occurrence of a disease results from exposure to a particular hazard.”
CBO is adamant that using such association standards will often result in providing disability benefits to veterans for conditions that are common in the general population and that may be more strongly associated with non–service-related risk factors such as genetics, aging or lifestyle.