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Veterans' Benefits: Veterans Have Mixed Views on a Lump Sum Disability Payment Option

GAO-01-172 Published: Dec 18, 2000. Publicly Released: Jan 18, 2001.
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Currently, veterans who are disabled while serving their country are compensated for average reduction in earning capacity. Monthly compensation is based on the severity of a veteran's disability. After an initial rating for compensation has been determined, veterans who believe their condition has worsened may file a claim with the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) to reevaluate their disability rating. These repeat claims outnumbered initial disability applications by nearly three to one in fiscal year 1999, dominating VA's workload. To help reduce the volume of repeat claims, the Veterans' Claims Adjudication Commission asked Congress to consider paying less severely disabled veterans compensation in a lump sum. GAO surveyed veterans who are now being compensated on their reaction to a lump sum option. Veterans had mixed views. Many veterans and military personnel could see advantages and disadvantages to this new option. They also suggested some strategies that they believed could minimize the financial risks a lump sum payment option might introduce.

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