Friday, May 12, 2006

More on VDBC

WASHINGTON, May 8 /PRNewswire/ -- The Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission is considering whether Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) should or should not be included in its analysis of compensation and earnings of service-disabled veterans.During its March 2006 meeting, the Commission discussed the Congressional intent of Public Law 108-136, which created the Commission. Specific focus was on interpreting the intent of the law and what that means in terms of the Commission's authorities. Also discussed by the Commission members was how data could be acquired from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and how it could be matched to administrative data from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as well as how results could be interpreted, if SSA data were collected. Some veterans in receipt of VA disability compensation also receive SSDI; some for the same disability, some for a combination of service- connected and nonservice-connected disabilities, and some for disabilities unrelated to their service. The frequency and amount of benefits received is not known. At issue is whether the Commission should include this information in its assessment of the appropriateness of the level of benefits provided to veterans for disabilities resulting from military service. Allegations have been made that the Commission intends to propose offsetting benefits or reducing benefits. This definitely is not the intent of the Commission. In January 2006, the Commission contracted with the Center for Naval Analyses Corporation (CNAC) to gather data and assist with the analysis of certain aspects of disability and survivor benefits related to military service. The effects of disability on average and individual loss of earning capacity, quality of life, and individual unemployability are some key questions to be addressed by CNAC's research. CNAC's data gathering will include both surveying disabled veterans and survivors and an economic analysis comparing earnings of disabled veterans to a sample of veterans with no service related disabilities. A decision on SSDI was deferred until the next meeting of the Commission. In the interim, the Commission staff has been researching the relevance and usefulness of the SSDI data, and the Chairman offered the Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committees of the House and Senate an opportunity to comment on the issue. The Chairman's offer and the Committee responses are posted on the Commission web site: Anyone interested in the SSDI or other veterans' benefits issues is invited to attend future Commission public meetings and present oral statements to the Commission. Oral presentations will be limited to no more than five minutes. Interested parties are also encouraged to provide written comments for review by the Commission prior to the meeting by e-mail to: or by regular post to Mr. Ray Wilburn, Executive Director, Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission, 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, 5th Floor, Washington, DC 20004.

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