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Before the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on the Medical Evaluation of Veterans for Disability Compensation

July 7, 2006

Pursuant to Section 1502 of Public Law 108-136, the Commission is charged with performing a comprehensive analysis of VA benefits and services provided to compensate and assist veterans and their survivors for disabilities and deaths incurred in, or caused by, military service. This analysis is to focus on three specific points:

1. The laws and regulations that determine eligibility for disability and death benefits, and other assistance for veterans and their survivors.

2. The rates of such compensation, including the appropriateness of the schedule for rating disabilities based on average impairment of earning capacity.

3. Comparable disability benefits provided to individuals by the Federal government, state governments, and the private sector. (P.L. 108-136, Section 1678).

Once the investigation has been completed, the Commission’s findings and recommendations are to be reported to the President and Congress. (P.L. 108-136, Section 1503).

In an effort to make the most informed recommendations possible, the Commission has contracted with the IOM to perform a comprehensive review of various elements of the VA’s veterans disability compensation program, including:

assessing of whether the VA’s current schedule for rating disabilities is an appropriate, valid and reliable instrument for evaluating medical impairment and determining degree of disability,

examining the adequacy of medical criteria used to determine veterans’ eligibility for VA compensation,

analyzing the current application of “Individual Unemployability” to determine whether the VA rating schedule should more accurately reflect a veteran's ability to participate in the workforce,

determining if the current methods for selecting the appropriate schedular diagnostic codes and the severity of symptomatology are medically sound,

assessing the medical criteria currently used to qualify veterans for secondary and aggravated service-connected disability, apart from natural progression of the underlying disorder, and

assessing how medical expertise should be used to evaluate veterans throughout the claims process.

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