Tuesday, February 01, 2011

VA Hosts Public Forum to Improve Disability Compensation Criteria

VA Seeks Opinion of Veterans and Public and Private Experts

WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is hosting a public
forum in Scottsdale, Ariz., aimed at improving the fairness of payments
for Veterans who are service-connected for genitourinary, digestive,
dental, infectious, immune disorder and nutritional deficiency diseases
and injuries.

"We welcome to this public forum key stakeholders, our nation's
Veterans, Veterans service organizations, public and private health
experts, health economists and Department of Defense professionals, who
will provide us with the information we need to bring the disability
rating criteria into the 21st century," said Acting Under Secretary for
Benefits Michael Walcoff.

The focus of the forum is to assist VA in gathering information to
update the Department's Schedule for Rating Disabilities.  The schedule
is used to assign levels of disability compensation for Veterans who are
service-connected for these disabilities.  The forum's agenda includes
presentations by VA, DoD and private subject matter experts.

The forum is taking place from Jan. 25-28 and Jan. 31- Feb. 3 at
DoubleTree Paradise Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz.  The meetings and
working sessions will be held each day from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The public forum is the third in a series of meetings that will enable
VA to make changes to the ratings schedule.  It is part of a systematic
update of all 15 body systems of the rating schedule, to be completed by
2016.  The two previous forums held in 2010 focused on mental health and
musculoskeletal disorders.

VA provides compensation and pension benefits to more than 4 million
Veterans and other beneficiaries through a VA nationwide network of 57
regional offices.  Currently, the basic monthly rate of compensation
paid to Veterans ranges from $123 to $2,673.

Disability compensation is a non-taxable, monthly monetary benefit paid
to Veterans who are disabled as a result of an injury or illness that
was incurred or aggravated during active military service.

After finding that a Veteran's disability is service-connected, the
rating schedule is applied to determine the level of disability, which
ranges from zero to 100 percent.  The Veteran then receives compensation
payments based on the disability level assigned.

Veterans and other people seeking information about, or assistance with,
VA compensation or pension benefits may call VA's toll-free number
1-800-827-1000, or go to www.vba.va.gov/VBA.

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