The VA has developed new regulations that could make getting additional disability pay easier now for some veterans who have traumatic brain injury (TBI) in addition to Parkinson disease, certain types of dementia, depression, unprovoked seizures, or certain diseases of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands.
The new regulations, which took effect in January, were born of a 2008 Institute of Medicine report, Gulf War and Health, Volume 7: Long-Term Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury. That report was based on a consensus by a National Academy of Sciences committee of experts, which found “sufficient evidence” to link moderate or severe levels of TBI with the other illnesses. The committee noted that even mild TBI is associated with adverse consequences, including memory loss, Alzheimer-like dementia, and seizures.
According to the new regulations if veterans with service-connected TBI also have 1 of the 5 associated illnesses, the second illness will be considered service-connected in the calculations of disability compensation. Eligibility for expanded benefits will depend on the severity of the TBI and the time between the injury causing the TBI and the onset of the second illness. However, veterans can still file a claim to establish direct service connection for those conditions even if they don’t meet the time and severity standards in the new regulation.
Service members who are within 180 days of discharge can file a predischarge claim for TBI online at http://www.eBenefits.va.gov. Veterans who have questions or want to file new disability claims can also use the eBenefits website. The published final rule is available at http://www.regulations.gov.