Impacts of the 2010 VA PTSD Rule Change on Veterans’ Disability Compensation and Reported Cognitive Disability

Publisher: Journal of Disability Policy Studies, vol. 28, issue 3
Dec 30, 2017
Kara Contreary, Jennifer Tennant, and Yonatan Ben-Shalom
In July 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) simplified the process of obtaining veterans’ disability compensation (DC) for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who served in combat zones but not in combat roles. In this article, we use data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) Veterans Supplement to estimate the impacts of the change in the VA PTSD rule on DC benefit receipt and self-reported cognitive disability. We hypothesize that the easing of eligibility rules led to an increase in DC receipt among veterans who served in combat zones but not in combat roles. It may also have led to reduced stigma among veterans with regard to reporting cognitive disability. Our results are consistent with these hypotheses. Self-reported rates of VA disability and DC receipt increased significantly among combat zone veterans. Self-reported VA disability rating and experience of cognitive disability also increased, but these increases were not statistically significant. During the same period, the rate of self-reported disability other than cognitive disability remained the same.