Sunday, April 29, 2012

Arguments for Expanding the AO Equity Act - Part 2

Today we post the second part of our argument in favor of expanding the Agent Orange Equity Act [HR3612/S.1629], by using receipt of the Vietnam Service Medal instead of requiring Veteran claimants go through an unduly burdensome process of proving they were aboard their ship when it ventured inside the 12 mile territorial limit off the coast of the Republic of Vietnam. Today, we estimate the cost of the bill.  

Estimating the cost of HR 3612/S1629 

It is difficult to estimate numbers of Veterans receiving Agent Orange benefits. The DVA is not very forthcoming with those numbers, likely because it will show so low as to invite scrutiny.
"It is difficult to know just how big a population is included in today’s sphere of eligibility. No publicly accessible database tracks the number of Vietnam veterans receiving disability compensation or medical care for conditions presumed to be caused by Agent Orange. While information on medical conditions, disability compensation, average income, and education levels is available for Vietnam-era veterans generally, the data do not identify those whose claims are connected to Agent Orange."
[US Veterans and Agent Orange: Understanding the impact 40 years later, National Organization on Disability. June, 2009, [Page 14]]

Our estimate is arrived at this way: According to the Defense Manpower Center's VIETNAM CONFLICT - CASUALTY SUMMARY, there were 229,000 Navy personnel who received the Vietnam Service Medal. Approximately 60,000 served in country/brown water. An unknown number are already dead, perhaps as many as 25%. More are receiving benefits based on the ship lists added by the DVA Compensation & Pension Service [which we estimate at about 5,000]. Many will simply not file claims for varying reasons: many are not sick, some do not need the help, some are not aware that these benefits exist, and other simply will not file a claim.

We estimate that the number of Army/Marine personnel who are receiving AO benefits is approximately 12-18% of the total who served on the ground in Vietnam.

Accordingly, we estimate the number of new claims resulting from the enactment of HR 3612/S/1629 would be somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 with the likelihood of the number being closer to the lower than the upper.

Assuming every claim is approved at 100%, and each Veteran is married, the maximum monthly benefit of $2924 extends out to $350,880,000 per 10,000 new claims the first year. This does not count retroactive benefits. But not every claim will be approved at 100%, most will be at 20%-40% and lower.

Estimate Maximum Payout Ranges:

Estimate Level      10,000 claims generated      20,000 claims generated
Maximum       $350.9M       $701.8M
@ 20%       $70.2M       $140.4M
x 10 years       $702M       $1.404B
@ 40%       $701.8M       $280.8M
x 10 years       $1.404B       $2.808B

So the range of costs for the first year [not counting Retroactive Benefits] would be:

$70.2Million to $280.8M

Extended out over ten years the cost [not counting Retroactive Benefits] would be:

$702M to $2.808B.

[Note: Each year starting with the second year, the number of claims will go down due to deaths of claimants, adjusted upward somewhat for DIC [Survivor’s Benefits] if survivors are eligible.  There is no accurate way to predict the amount of Retroactive benefits or DIC benefits. Also, actuarially, the death rate will be higher in the first years and decline in years five through ten.]

Counting an estimate for the Retroactive Benefits, $3.5B for ten years is probably a slightly high maximum.

Wednesday: Finding the Money

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Obama Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." --President Abraham Lincoln

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

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  1. Anonymous10:55

    By "Retroactive Benefits" I'm assuming you mean those paid from the date a claim was first submitted. Wouldn't you think the DVA will treat all AO claims under the new bill as just that, new claims? Do you think they will roll all outstanding claims into it? We'll be lucky if they don't make everyone resubmit...they will for sure if the 12 mile proviso stays in place. Knowing the DVA, I'd be very surprised if they included claims already outstanding unless the bill has a provision that makes them do so.

  2. It is the law and it is in the bill.