VA Issues Final Rule on Extension of Rehab Benefits for Alcoholics

The Alcoholism Report, October 1990 | Go to article overview

VA Issues Final Rule on Extension of Rehab Benefits for Alcoholics


VA Issues Final Rule on Extension Of Rehab Benefits for Alcoholics

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) decided that, in the case of extension of eligibility for vocational rehabilitation benefits, a diagnosis of alcoholism alone is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the 1988 law which was enacted in response to the Supreme Court's celebrated "willful misconduct" ruling (AR, Oct. 25, 1988).

In publishing a final regulation, the VA noted that the law specifies that an extension of eligibility may be granted only if the veteran has been prevented from participating in a VA educational or rehabilitation program because of the "disabling effects of chronic alcoholism." The legislation was designed to remedy the decision in the Traynor/McKelvey case in which the Supreme Court upheld the VA's regulation that in determining certain veterans benefits, primary alcoholism is the result of "willful misconduct." The high court's ruling was seen as a blow to the concept of alcoholism as a disease.

"A diagnoses of alcoholism does not, in and of itself, satisfy the statutory requirement since the nature of alcoholism is such that it can exist and yet not manifest itself in effects which are shown to have prevented educational pursuit," the VA said in its final rule. …

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