Here’s why ex-servicemen are against the entitlement rules for award of disability compensation for military personnel

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Source: The post is based on the article “Here’s why ex-servicemen are against the entitlement rules for award of disability compensation for military personnel” published in “Indian Express” on 7th October 2023

What is the News?

Government has announced several changes in the disability pension rules of the armed forces.

The new guidelines are called “Entitlement Rules of Casualty Pension and Disability Compensation Award to Armed Forces Personnel 2023”.

The new guidelines will be applicable to personnel who retire after September 21,2023.

However, the All India Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association has reportedly objected to the changes.

What are the key concerns raised by ex-servicemen related to the new disability pension rules of the armed forces?

Removal of ‘Benefit of Doubt’ Clause: The most important existing rule was that military personnel shall not be called upon to prove their entitlement and the ‘benefit of reasonable doubt’ will be given to the claimant.This rule has now been abrogated in the new rules. 

Positive Presumption Clause Abrogated: The new rules state that the mere manifestation of a disease during military service does not mean it’s attributable to service, which is contrary to the previous rules and global military practices.

Changes attributable to ‘military service rule’: In new rules, it has been stated that diseases will only be considered attributable to service in case they occur in active operations, high altitude, extreme physical exertion etc.

– In the earlier rules, the place of deployment was not a condition for the grant of benefits.

Changes in Service Conditions: The new rules provide that heart diseases etc would only be treated as connected with service in case the same occurs after a service of more than three months in active operations, high altitude areas and extreme physical exertion for more than 72 hours continuously.

– The earlier rules simply stated that such disabilities are all affected by stress and strain of military service.

Changes in ‘aggravation by service’: In new rules, aggravation by service has been linked to only extreme climatic conditions, field operations, high altitude etc.

– The old rule provided that in case of worsening of any disability persisting at the time of discharge, the disability would be treated as aggravated by service thereby resulting in grant of disability pension.

Diseases Removed from List: Under the old rules, all cancers except those caused by smoking were deemed to be aggravated by service in case of worsening during military service.But now all cancers have been taken out of the list and only those caused by radiation or exposure to chemicals during service will be included in the attributable list.

– Moreover, all types of diabetes have also been excluded from the attributable/aggravation list.

Impairment Relief Clause: The definition of Disability Pension/Disability Element of Pension for those who retire on superannuation or are discharged from service or discharged voluntarily has been changed to ‘Impairment Relief’ so that it is taken out of the tax exemption regime wherein ‘disability element and service element of disability pension’ are exempted from Income Tax.

– A similar step has been taken for the war injury element/pension by changing its name to “War Injury Relief”.

Psychiatric Disorders Clause: The new rules link psychiatric/ behavioral disorders with only combat areas, three-month continuous service in high altitude etc as if military service or being away from family or inability to cope with domestic issues due to military service has no link with psychiatric disorders.

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