Easier Medical Care For Veterans

Traumatic brain injury long term effects to be covered under new rules for veteran benefits

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Medical research shows that head injury can lead to other neurological conditions. Unfortunately, for those exposed to blasts, crashes or other incidents during military service, there has been a gap in medical care.

A new rule has been proposed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to make health care and compensation for some illnesses easier to access for veterans.

These illnesses include conditions related to traumatic brain injury (TBI). The proposal is currently under a 60-day public commenting period.

"Have your say on new rules for veteran TBI benefits"

The new rule is in response to a 2008 report on the long-term effects of TBI from the Institutes of Medicine. The study concludes that there is an increased risk for developing conditions including Alzheimer’s-like dementia, Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms, unprovoked seizures, depression and hormone deficiency diseases related to the hypothalamus, pituitary or adrenal glands.

According to the new rule, veterans who experience these conditions after a TBI are eligible for the expanded benefit. Current rules require medical evidence that the condition is a result of military service in order to receive benefits.

The new rule does have some restrictions. Severity of the TBI and length of time until diagnosis of the secondary condition are important.

Veterans with Parkinson’s disease or unprovoked seizures must have been exposed to moderate or severe TBI to receive the extended benefits.

Dementia cases must be diagnosed within 15 years of moderate or severe TBI to be included.

Veterans who developed depression within 12 months of a moderate or severe TBI or within three months of a mild TBI are eligible.

Hormone deficiency diseases are eligible if they occur within 12 months of moderate or severe TBI.

Once the TBI has been established, the veteran will be eligible for additional compensation and health care related to any qualifying disease. This will help speed up and simplify a veteran’s medical care.

The rule change is not just for recent veterans. Veterans who have evidence of TBI in prior military service are also eligible to receive the benefits.

Public comments on the rule will be accepted up until February 8, 2013.

Comments can be submitted online at www.Regulations.gov, by mail or hand delivery to the Director, Regulations Managmenent (02REG), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave. NW, Room 1068, Washington DC 20420 or by fax to (202) 273-9026.

Any comments should reference RIN 2900-AN89 – Secondary Service Connection for Diagnosable Illnesses Associated with Traumatic Brain Injury.

Copies of the comments received will be made available to the public by the Office of Regulation Policy and Management. They will also be visible online through the Federal Docket Management System at www.Regulations.gov through February 8, 2013.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 17, 2012
Last Updated:
December 19, 2012