VA Makes Disability Rating Changes

Veteran Affairs has a new procedure in place to evaluate traumatic brain injury and burn scars to better determine “the appropriate level of compensation,” according to a Sept. 23 release. Changes in scientific and medical knowledge prompted the VA to provide its employees with “more detailed and up-to-date criteria” when considering veterans with TBI and burn scars. Currently, VA compensates more than 22,000 TBI-inflicted vets, with about 5,800 of those stemming from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also on Sept. 23, VA said it would now provide support to vets who suffer from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, and who have 90 days or more of continuous active service. In a statement, VA Secretary James Peake said, “Veterans are developing ALS in rates higher than the general population, and it was appropriate to take action.” Peake based his decision largely upon a November 2006 report by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, which pointed out an association between active duty service and ALS, for which there is no effective treatment. The VA plans to try to contact veterans with ALS, including those the department previously turned down.