Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission

List of Potential Research Questions

 

Compensation Subcommittee

 

C1.  How well do benefits provided to disabled veterans meet Congressional intent of replacing average impairment in earnings capacity?

 

C2.  How well do benefits provided to disabled Veterans meet implied Congressional intent to compensate for impairment in quality of life due to service-connected disabilities?

 

C3.  How well do benefits provided to survivors meet implied Congressional intent to compensate for the loss of the Veterans/Service Members’ earning capacity and for the impairment in quality of life due to service-connected death?

 

C4.  How well do benefits provided to disabled Veterans and survivors meet implied Congressional intent to provide incentive value for recruitment and retention?

 

C5.  How well do the medical criteria in the VA Rating Schedule and VA rating regulations enable assessment and adjudication of the proper levels of disability to compensate for both the impact on quality of life and impairment in earnings capacity?

 

C6.  How does the adequacy of disability benefits provided for members of the Armed Forces compare with disability benefits provided to employees of Federal, State, and Local Governments, and commercial and private-sector benefit plans?

 

C7.  How do the operations of disability benefits program compare?

 

C8.  Does the disability benefit provided affect a Veteran’s incentive to work?

 

C9.  Pertinent law and regulations require that disability compensation be based on average impairment of earnings capacity, not on loss of individual earnings capacity.

           

            A.  Would the results be more appropriate if factors such as the individual’s military rank, military specialty, pre-service occupation, education, and skill level were taken into consideration in determining benefits?

 

            B.  Would the results be more appropriate if the effect of the Veteran’s medical condition on his or her occupation were taken into consideration in determining benefits?

 

C10.  Would the results be more appropriate if reduced quality of life and lost earnings were separately rated and compensated?

 

C11.  Should lump sum payments be made for certain disabilities or level of severity of disabilities?  Should such lump sum payments be elective or mandatory?  Consider the merits under different circumstances such as where the impairment is to quality of life and not to earnings capacity.

 

C12.  Should universal medical diagnostic codes be adopted by VA for disability and medical conditions rather than using a unique system?  Should the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities be replaced with the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment?

 

C13.  Are benefits available to service disabled Veterans at an appropriate level if not indexed to cost of living?  Should the various benefits that are presently fixed be automatically adjusted for inflation?

 

Duty - Service Connection Subcommittee

 

D1.  Should VA‘s definition for “line of duty“ change?  If so, how?

 

D2.  Should the Benefits Package be restructured for those Veterans who have incurred a service connected disability, and for their survivors?  If so, how?

 

D3.  To what extent, if any, should VA policies relating to presumptive conditions be changed?

 

D4.  Should certain rating principles related to service connection be modified?

(See questions below)

 

            A.  To what extent should VA modify eligibility standards for compensation if data from certain categories of service-connected Veterans demonstrate little or no measurable loss of earning capacity and/or quality of life?

 

            B.  To what extent should eligibility standards change for disabilities that occur as part of genetics?

 

            C.  To what extent, if any, should the “age” factor into determining eligibility to the             following benefits:

 

                        1.  Individual Unemployables (IU)

           

                        2.  Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment

           

                        3.  Compensation

 

            D.  Should the benefit of the doubt rule be reconsidered or redefined?

 

            E.  Should service connection on a “secondary” basis be redefined?

           

            F.  Should service connection on an “aggravation” basis be redefined?

 

D5.  Should there be a time limit for filing a claim for service connection?

 

D6.  Currently, a pending claim terminates at the time of the veteran’s death even when dependents remain.  To what extent, if any, should this law be changed?

 

D7.  To what extent and how should the Commission evaluate the medical criteria used to assess and adjudicate VA disability?

 

D8. What recommendations, if any, should the Commission make in regards to Concurrent Receipt policies?

 

D9.  Should the Commission explore and recommend changes to the “duty to assist” law?  If so, how?

 

D10.  Should the Commission explore the Character of Discharge Standard?

 

D11.  Should compensation payments be protected from apportionments and garnishments?

 

D12.  In regards to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), what policy changes need to be recommended?

 

Transition/Coordination/Readjustment Subcommittee

 

T1.  To what extent is the coordination between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) adequate to meet the needs of service members/Veterans, particularly the needs of service-connected disabled Veterans?

 

T2.  To what extent is the coordination for seriously injured and disabled service members/Veterans adequate within VA between the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and internally within each of the Administrations?  What are the internal and external impediments, challenges and gaps and how might these barriers be overcome?

 

T3.  To what extent is the coordination adequate within DoD between the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Health affairs and Force Management Policy, and the branches of Services?  What are the internal and external impediments, challenges, and gaps and how might these barriers be overcome?

 

T4.  To what extent do DoD and VA provide disabled members/Veterans the means and the opportunity to succeed in their transition to civilian life?  What are the adequacy, quality, and timeliness of the benefits provided by each agency?

 

T5.  What policy and cultural shifts must be made to produce a common, shared, bi-directional data exchange of information and access to medical and personnel records between VA and DoD and within VA between VBA and VHA?

 

T6.  To what extent are the training, education and outreach programs (of DoD, VA and DOL) adequate to ensure that the greatest number of active duty, Guard and Reserve personnel are informed of the full range of Federal government Veteran benefits and services?