Improving Services for Those Who Served: Practical Recommendations for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Disability Benefits Model

Scott W. Taylor

Volume 68, Issue 6, 1291-1318

The mission of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) is “[t]o care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by providing services and benefits to America’s veterans. As part of its mission, the VA administers a complex disability benefits program intended to compensate those veterans whose service-related impairments prevent them from fully engaging in the workforce. But the current VA disability benefits model constrains both its capacity to provide required services and its ability to adapt to the changing needs of the constituency it serves. So too does the VA’s outmoded disability assessment model, which amounts to a “one-size-fits-all” evaluation that determines the severity of a veteran’s disability based solely on symptomatology, and not the veteran’s actual ability to function in the workplace.

This Article suggests that the VA should instead employ a more holistic, individualized approach to assisting veterans disabled by their service by accounting for both economic and quality of life factors when assessing disability, considering both finite and ongoing payment options when providing disability benefits, and emphasizing rehabilitation and recovery in addition to compensation when providing services to those who have served.

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