Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Federal Rule Could Make It Easier for Thousands of Vets to Receive Benefits for TBI

The Department of Veterans Affairs this week issued a new proposed rule that will make it easier for veterans to receive health care and compensation for certain illnesses that have been linked to traumatic brain injury (TBI). The proposed rule lists Parkinsonism, unprovoked seizures, certain dementias, depression, and hormone-deficiency diseases related to the hypothalamus, pituitary, or adrenal glands as eligible for the expanded benefits. The proposed rule will be open to public comment for 60 days before being finalized. 

A December 7 New York Times article
on the proposed rule notes that it could open the door to tens of thousands of veterans filing claims with the VA. Since 2000, more than 250,000 service members have received diagnoses of TBI. Though TBI is commonly thought to result from blast exposure, the vast majority of those injuries were diagnosed in nondeployed troops who were involved in vehicle crashes, training accidents, or sports injuries, according to the Times. The Department of Veterans Affairs says that a much smaller number of veterans—about 51,000—are receiving benefits for service-connected TBIs. However the department acknowledges that thousands more troops with TBI may be eligible for the expanded benefits.

The text of the proposed rule in the Federal Register is posted
here. For more information on traumatic brain injury and the role of psychiatry in treating it, see Psychiatric News here. Also see the Textbook of Traumatic Brain Injury, Second Edition, from American Psychiatric Publishing.

(Image: Straight 8 Photography/