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Brain Injury Disability Rating System For Vets: New Proposals

The department of veterans affairs has proposed a new rating schedule for the evaluation of traumatic brain injury.  The proposal appears in the Federal Register, Vol 73 no 2, 38 CFR Part 4.

The proposal is a far reaching analysis of the consequences of traumatic brain injury.  Significantly, the veterans administration has recognized that there is nothing mild about mild traumatic brain injury. However, after making some very important statements about traumatic brain injury, its  diagnosis, symptoms and consequences, the VA then fails to classify these disabilities as rendering the individual 100 percent disabled.  The proposed disability rating ranges from 10 percent to 40 percent.

It is important that all advocates for individuals with a traumatic brain injury including neuropsychologists, neuropsychiatrists, social workers and others involved in the brain injury rehabilitation process make their opinions heard and oppose these limited ratings.

This proposed disability rating for a traumatic brain injury is just wrong and needs to be changed.  What the VA fails to understand is that a brain injury affects every aspect of a person's life.  To rate a brain injury as only a ten percent disability fails to take into account the day to day disabilities suffered by a person following brain damage.   

Here is what the proposal states:

We propose to include the information that mild, moderate and severe  refer to a classification of TBI at, or close to, the time of injury rather than to the current level of functioning in the regulation itself to make it clear to raters that these designations that may appear in the medical records refer only to the initial evaluation and not to current functioning.

The proposal also  acknowledges that mental disorders are common consequences of a traumatic brain injury.  The VA states that the most common co existing mental disorder is depression, which may occur in up to 60 percent of those with TBI, but anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder also commonly occur.

In discussing post concussion syndrome, the proposal acknowledges the this condition may become permanent in a proportion of the population and lists the symptoms of the post concussion syndrome as headache, dizziness or vertigo, fatigue, malaise, sleep disturbance, cognitive impairment, difficulty concentrating, delayed reaction time, behavioral changes (such as irritability, restlessness, apathy, inappropriate social behavior, aggression, impulsivity), emotional changes (such as mood swings, anxiety, depression), tinnitus or hypersensitivity to sound, hypersensitivity to light, blurred vision, double vision, decreased sense of smell and taste, and difficulty hearing in noisy situations or competing sounds in the absence of objective hearing loss.

Comments regarding the VA proposal must be submitted on or before February 4, 2008.  Written comments can be submitted by clicking here. Comments should indicate that they are submitted in response to RIN 2900-AM75-"Schedule for Rating Disabilities: Evaluation of Residuals of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Comments can also be sent by mail to the Director, Regulations Management, (00REG), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW., Rm 1068, Washington, DC 20420.

For further information on these proposed regulations you can contact, Maya Ferrandino, Regulations Staff (211D), Compensation and Pension Service, Veterans Benefits Administration, Department of Veterans Benefits Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20420. (727) 319 5847

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