Entitlement Rules for Casualty Pension and Disability Compensation Awards to Armed Forces Personnel, 2023
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Anil Chauhan, has announced new rules governing disability pension for military personnel. These rules are designed to protect the legitimate interests of individuals who acquire disabilities during their service while preventing the misuse of liberal provisions. The overarching goal is to enhance the efficiency of the armed forces, ensure their battle readiness, and promote physical fitness among all personnel.
The revised policy, titled “Entitlement Rules for Casualty Pension and Disability Compensation Awards to Armed Forces Personnel, 2023,” along with the accompanying “Guide to Medical Officers,” will be applicable to military personnel who retire after September 21. Importantly, these changes will not impact the entitlements of individuals receiving compensation for death or disability, nor will they alter the emoluments of war widows, family pensioners, or veterans.
The new rules represent a tightening of the norms for claiming disability pension. This change reflects a response to the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report, which raised questions about the increasing number of personnel receiving disability pensions. Approximately 40% of officers and 18% of personnel below officer rank (PBOR) were retiring with disability pensions each year.
The Efficiency Perspective
The primary aim of these rules is not cost-saving but rather the efficient management of the armed forces cadre. The presence of a significant number of individuals in lower medical categories sends an unintended message, and these changes aim to address that issue.
Streamlined Assessment and Entitlement
The revised policy is designed to streamline the assessment and entitlement procedures, reducing ambiguity and the likelihood of litigation. This clarity will ensure that military personnel receive the support they need without unnecessary complications.
Impairment Relief Concept
The introduction of impairment relief, a new concept in the rules, has garnered some criticism due to its lack of tax exemption. General Chauhan clarified that this change in terminology does not affect the nature of entitlement or the quantum of emoluments. It applies to personnel who are not invalidated out due to the nature of their disabilities and continue to serve until the end of their engagement.
Disability pension claims saw a significant increase following the implementation of the 6th Pay Commission report in 2006, which enhanced benefits considerably. Concerns have been raised about fit officers exploiting the system by seeking disability benefits for higher, tax-free pensions.
Category: Defence Current Affairs