VA sets record for disability benefits delivered to women vets

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Veterans Affairs leaders on Thursday announced the department is delivering disability compensation benefits to a record number of women veterans.

A total of 702,557 women veterans are receiving disability compensation benefits from VA, officials shared. That’s an all-time record high and a 26% increase over five years ago.

“These record numbers demonstrate that we’ve made tremendous progress in recent years, but they are still just the beginning,” Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Tanya Bradsher, the first woman to serve in her role at VA, said in a release.

The achievement for the department, shared amid Women’s History Month, comes as the VA increasingly serves a growing cohort of women veterans through its health care system.

Women veterans who receive earned disability compensation benefits from VA get an average of $26,809 per year and have an average 68% combined disability rating, according to the release. That compares to an average 61% combined disability rating for men, VA Under Secretary for Benefits Joshua Jacobs told reporters Wednesday.

The average grant rate for women veterans is 89.2%, the release said, meaning that roughly nine out of 10 women veterans who applied for disability benefits with VA received benefits for at least one condition.

“We want every woman veteran to come to us for the benefits that they have earned and deserve,” Jacobs said, noting that VA is hosting targeted women veteran outreach events across the country throughout the year.

Meanwhile, this week the White House announced that VA and the Department of Defense are launching a new Women’s Health Research collaborative to explore opportunities to promote the advancement of women’s health research and improve care for veterans and service members.

It wasn’t until just over 100 years ago that women veterans were granted access to government health care. Today, VA provides a wide range of health care assistance for women vets, from breast cancer screenings and mammograms for those with potential toxic exposures to access to reproductive health services and maternity care coordination.

But aside from disability compensation and health care benefits, VA says it is working hard to provide other resources for women veterans.

Last fall, VA hosted its first national women Veterans Experience Action Center, a virtual convening that aided more than 340 women veterans to apply for care and benefits.

“Everyone I spoke with was excellent and made me feel very taken care of,” one woman said at the time.

And while they make up 16.5% of the veteran population, women veterans received 27.5% of Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits and 26.4% of Veteran Readiness and Employment benefits in 2023, Jacobs noted.

Separately, the department reached another milestone this month. It announced earlier this week it processed its one millionth veteran benefits claim in fiscal year 2024 on March 4 — the earliest that’s been achieved in VA history and nearly six weeks faster than the previous record from last fiscal year.

Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media

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