TRICARE for Any Vet Found 'Unfit'

ptorican

PEB Forum Regular Member
Looking around found this article. TRICARE for Any Vet Found 'Unfit' i believe it is a step foward towards giving deserving veterans the health care they deserve.
If anyone here knows more about this article can you please explain more about it, im still somewhat confuse, and something tells me, it sounds to good to happen,
On the same note why are we only going as far back to 2001, what about Vietnam Vets WWII Vets.

http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,149951,00.html?wh=wh


Luis
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
We'll have to wait to see what shakes out

Luis,

I think you hit the nail on the head with your question about earlier Vet's. If you follow Vet's organizations and websites you will notice a consistent theme of unity. Trying to parse out who is a combat vet or not, what vet should get preference over others, usually gets a heated negative response. So, we will see if this proposal gets traction or not. Moving past the question of exclusion, I think the proposal is a good thing for Servicemembers. Part of me suspects though that if it passes, you will see more "fit" findings than before.

I try to keep this site non-political because I don't want to overshadow the information about PDES and I don't want to turn off anyone in search of info. But this whole issue would go away if there was universal health care.
 

Jason Perry

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Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
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More info

Here is some more info on this point from one of the members here, Mike Parker. He is very involved in these issues and graciously gave me permission to post this. Thanks, Mike.

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To understand this Dole/Shalala recommendation area, you must first understand that there are two sides of the disability benefits coin, VA benefits and DoD benefits. DoD compensation benefits fall under chapter 61 of title 10. While there are millions and millions of disabled vets, a very small minority became so disabled during their careers that they were medically separated by their Service due to these disabilities. By law they were due career DoD compensation benefits in addition to disability compensation by the VA.

Over the years, DoD and the Services have come up with many schemes to avoid paying these benefits when they medically separate individuals. The current DoD system separate separates members with full retirement benefits, separates them with severance pay, or separates them without any benefits. Currently, only 10-20% of those removed due to disability receive retirement benefits.

If the unfitting disability is rated at 30% or greater by DoD, the member is retired with full retirement benefits. If rated less than 30%, the member is separated with a one time severance pay. If the member's disability is deemed to have existed prior to service (EPTS) or from gross negligence, then the member receives no disability benefits from DoD. (EPTS is not a factor if a member has at least eight years active duty service.)

DoD and the Services are doing many things to reduce these benefits. They are artificially rating individuals low to avoid the 30% retirement threshold. They are cherry picking which disabilities were unfitting to keep the rating low. They are also making erroneous and unsupportable EPTS determinations to avoid paying disability benefits. The Navy PEB is finding individuals fit but then the command administratively separates them due to the impact of the disability. These individuals receive no DoD disability benefits despite the requirements of chapter 61 of Title 10.

DoD disability benefits are to compensate the lost career due to disability while VA compensates the impact of the disability earnings capacity. The problem was that, by law, VA dollars offset DoD dollars so in effect, the career was not compensated as designed. Therefore any career equity was lost to VA benefits for those separated under chapter 61 with under twenty years of service.

I personally briefed the Dole/Shalala commission on these issues and my recommended fixes. By and large, they adopted these recommendations. If you would like a copy of my brief to them which explains the problem in greater detail, please email at [email protected] com. They video of my brief to them is still available at the PCCWW website (http://www. pccww.gov/ Meetings. html.) My presentation can be found in video file 2 of 2 for the May 14th 2007 meeting. I am in the lighter sports coat.

Here is what Dole/Shalala recommended to address these issues.


2. Completely Restructure the Disability and Compensation Systems


Recommendation: DoD maintains authority to determine fitness to serve. For those found not fit for duty, DoD shall provide payment for years served. VA then establishes the disability rating, compensation and benefits.

Goals: Update and simplify the disability determination and compensation system; eliminate parallel activities; reduce inequities; and provide a solid base for the return of injured veterans to productive lives.

What does it mean?

First, all members dismissed from service due to disability are to receive a lifetime retirement annuity based on they years served and the rank obtained. No disability rating by DoD is necessary as it is the career that is lost and that is what is being compensated by DoD. DoD's job is to determine fitness and to compensate the careers of those deemed unfit. This greatly simplifies the DoD Disability Evaluation System by getting DoD out of the ratings process as it is not needed to compensate the lost career. It protects the equities of the service member's separated for disability from DoD and Service cost reducing shenanigans.

Second, the VA's job is to compensate the impact of the disability on the quality of life loss, earnings loss and transitional assistance.

Third, they eliminate the offset between DoD compensation for the career and VA's compensation for the disability's impact.

What are the concerns with this plan?

[FONT=Times New
Roman]Under the current DES, all those with a 30% or greater rating receive TRICARE for life for the discharged service member and their eligible family members. The Dole/Shalala plan, for whatever reason, decided only those dismissed for combat related injuries would receive the TRICARE benefit. It has become evident that they did not fully understand this aspect nor the impact of this limitation. Their intent was to make the system broader, but the opposite occurred. Tom Philpot's article above addresses this issue. [/FONT]


Second, their plan eliminates the VA earnings compensation at social security retirement. Their intent and belief is that this would actually give more economic value to the disabled vet, not less. Unfortunately, if not done correctly, the opposite will occur. In her testimony on Wednesday, Secretary Shalala stated the current vet could choose between the old plan or the new plan depending on which plan gave them the greater benefit. I will reserve judgment on this issue until the details manifest. It could be great, it could be a disaster.

What will be the difference between the old veteran and the new veteran? (As I see it)

Dole/ Shalala address the concurrent receipt issue (both DoD disability retirement and VA compensation w/o offset). However, while Dole/Shalala does this for new vets, it does not address concurrent receipt for past Chapter 61 disabled vets. The VDBC does address this issue as does many proposed legislative proposals from Congress. This fix will likely not be retroactive for past pay, so the old vet will lose out on the offset impact prior to the law being changed (if it is changed.)

Those separated vice retired under Chapter 61 (rated under 30%, EPTS) prior to the effective date of the Dole Shalala plan, will lose out as they will not be retired while the new vet under similar circumstances will be. Again, I don't see this being retroactive past 9-11. However, these older vets can still challenge their DoD ratings in administrative relief boards as well in the courts. If they can successfully argue their DoD rating should have been over 30%, then they will get retirement retroactive to the date of separation. Those dismissed without benefits due to EPTS determination can also fight these issues in administrative board and the courts.

Dole/Shalala enhances the transition benefits in terms of pay and educational benefits. This will favor the new vet who has yet to transition.

In essence, since the current vet has gone many years under the old system and the new system will likely not be retroactive in all areas. Therefore, the older vet will have lesser lifetime benefits than the newer vet. This is not because the older vets benefits are being reduced. It is because the younger vets benefits are being enhanced.


Regards,

Mike
 

trip

PEB Forum Regular Member
Great summary of proposed changes. When do you think they will vote on and implement the new system.

Trip
 

maparker

Moderator
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
It is all up in the air. Both the House and the Senate have approved their versions of wounded warrior legislation. They need to conference these two bills into one bill both will pass. They want to do this sooner rather than later. Senator Dole stated he had hoped they would take the recommendations of the Dole/Shalala report and work them into the consoloidated bill during this conference. The same is probably true of the VDBC report which will be made public on 03 October.

Mike
 
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