WASHINGTON—New changes to VA benefits may make it easier for some veterans with TBI who are diagnosed with any of five other designated ailments to seek additional compensation.
A VA statement explained that under a new regulation, if certain veterans with service-connected TBI also have one of the five illnesses (Parkinson’s disease, certain types of dementia, depression, unprovoked seizures or certain diseases of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands) then the second illness will also be considered as service connected for the calculation of VA disability compensation. The new regulation takes effect in mid January.
According to VA, “eligibility for expanded benefits will depend upon the severity of the TBI and the time between the injury causing the TBI and the onset of the second illness. However, veterans can still file a claim to establish direct service-connection for these ailments even if they do not meet the time and severity standards in the new regulation.”
The new regulations stems from an Institute of Medicine report that found “sufficient evidence” to link moderate or severe levels of TBI with the five ailments, according to VA.
“We decide veterans’ disability claims based on the best science available,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki in a written statement. “As scientific knowledge advances, VA will expand its programs to ensure veterans receive the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve.”
The published final rule will be available Dec. 17 at http://www.regulations.gov.