BY DR. DAVID SHULKIN AND DR. KYLE SHEETZ
As part of our commitment to those that have served, taxpayers will spend $100 billion in 2019 towards benefits programs for veterans. Costs for these programs have more than quadrupled since the year 2000. Few programs of this size and importance have received less attention from a policy perspective.
The VA’s disability compensation system is complex, cumbersome and frequently difficult to navigate. The approval process can be frustrating and slow — from obtaining copies of military service records to undergoing a comprehensive evaluation known as the Compensation and Pension examination, which is used to assign a disability rating from 0-100 percent.
The exam itself was first conceived in the 1940’s. It has only been modified through iterative changes and may fail to properly acknowledge some of the most common issues facing today’s veterans, such as post traumatic stress (PTS).
Veterans who are dissatisfied with initial decisions often seek higher ratings. Despite real progress by VA in recent years, the backlog of appeals remains large and hundreds of thousands of veterans wait on a system impeded by legislative restrictions and its own bureaucracy. This perpetuates an adversarial relationship between the veteran and VA. Many veterans who struggle to obtain an initial benefits’ decision become locked into a complicated process to prove their needs.