Veteran Disability Cases Increasing at Alarming Rates

( – According to a The Hill’s November 11 op-ed piece, the escalating budget of the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is becoming an issue because of the unprecedented rise in veterans’ enrollment in disability compensation. The article, which was written by academics Mark Duggan and Kyle Greenberg, noted that the share of US veterans benefiting from disability is higher than ever, as 30 percent of the 18.5 million veterans are currently enrolled.

The two academics pointed out that the average annual payment skyrocketed from nearly $13,000 in 2000 to $21,000 right now. The growth has been fueled by a significant change towards higher disability ratings for other severe conditions, which resulted in a seven-fold increase in recipients with ratings of 70 percent or more.

In the op-ed, Greenberg and Duggan explained that while disability compensation has shown economic benefits, many are concerned about its impact on veterans’ employment rates in the country. The two academics wrote that numerous studies have revealed a massive reduction in veterans’ employment, which made them question the long-term consequences of a program that “dramatically evolved” since its creation.

They also noted that the increase in disability compensation enrollment raises concerns about the program’s alignment with the health and well-being of the veterans. Both pointed out that health experts believe mental health is a delicate “layer” in the topic of disability compensation, as suicide rates among veterans have been increasing over the last few years.

Greenberg and Duggan also said none of them are asking for the US government to make some cuts to the VA’s budget, as they consider it necessary to support every veteran in the country. However, they explained that Americans need to ask themselves if a substantial and generous disability compensation is the “best way” to honor and reward veterans and inspire young adults to serve in the armed forces. Both added that the program bears no resemblance to the one that existed throughout the half of the past century.

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