The Growing Costs of Caring for Disabled Veterans

On the heels of President Obama’s declaration during the State of the Union address, political analysts are dissecting the domestic political (and foreign policy) implications of the troop withdrawal in Afghanistan. The President pledged to end the war, thereby removing all troops, by the end of 2014.

Some may believe that political pressure may be a part of the decision while others may think that stronger economic factors are at play. Indeed, there are important economic considerations, especially with regard to disabled veterans. A recent USA Today report found that the costs of caring for injured veterans rose from $14.8 billion in 2000 to $39.4 billion in 2011.

While the increasing costs are concerning, the reasons behind them are quite compelling. Allison Hickey, the VA’s Undersecretary for Benefits, explained to USA that multiple deployments was a primary reason behind the increase in injuries (and thus disability payouts). Additional deployments increase the likelihood that more soldiers would be injured, which leads to increased disability costs.

Also, the culture of seeking benefits has changed as well. It appears that World War II and Vietman War veterans did not file disability claims in the same fashion as soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Older many older veterans were not educated about the process or their rights to compensation, while their younger counterparts have much more access to information about how they may receive benefits.

Since 2000, the population of disabled veterans has grown 45 percent, to 3.4 million. Also there is a backlog of claims estimated at being 800,000 and growing. Regardless of the growing costs of caring for disabled vets, the promise still remains. An experienced attorney can help those having trouble obtaining benefits.

Source: USA, Veteran disability costs more than doubled since 2000, January 15, 2013.