THE ESM CORNER

UNDERSTANDING THE REVISED ENTITLEMENT RULES AND GMO-2023 FOR CASUALTY PENSION AND DISABILITY COMPENSATION

ESM CORNER

The Indian government has recently issued new guidelines for the pension and Disability Compensation of Armed Forces Personnel who are disabled in the line of duty. These guidelines are contained in two documents: The Entitlement Rules for Casualty Pension and Disability Compensation Awards for Armed Forces Personnel 2023 (ER 2023) and the Guide to Medical Officers (Military Pensions) 2023 (GMO 2023). Both documents came into effect on September 21, 2023. This article aims to provide a systematic overview of the key aspects outlined in the new ER 2023 and GMO 2023 and to show how they impact the rights and benefits of military personnel and their families.

Salient Features of GMO 2023

Some points that summarize the salient features of GMO 2023 regarding Disability Compensation are:

  • GMO 2023 applies to all deaths and disabilities reported or recorded after September 21, 2023, as per ER 2023.
  • GMO 2023 does not affect the existing pensioners or family pensioners who are already benefited by Disability Compensation.
  • GMO 2023 does not change the rates of death or disability compensation.
  • GMO 2023 clarifies the terminologies, entitlement, assessment, and invalidation of disability.
  • GMO 2023 introduces a new system of Retention cum Impairment Assessment Board (RIAB) for calculation of Disability Compensation for the personnel who are LMC for life and eligible for Capitalized Impairment Relief.
  • Before the Disability Compensation is finalized, it has to be approved by an authority higher than the one who accepted the case.
  • GMO 2023 is based on the study from the members of the three services, MOD (DESW), and MOD (Finance).
  • GMO 2023 does not comment on the matters of income tax.
  • GMO 2023 does not change the competent authority
  • GMO 2023 does not change the 10-year clause for becoming eligible for an invalid pension.

DISABILITY PENSION:

    A disability pension is a pensionary benefit that is granted to Armed Forces Personnel who are medically unfit to continue their service due to a disability that is caused or worsened by their military service. The disability pension consists of two components: the Service Element, which is based on the rank and length of service of the personnel, and the Disability Element, which is based on the degree and type of disability. The disability pension is paid monthly (after calculation of Disability Compensation) to the personnel until their death. In case of death, the next of kin (NOK) of the personnel is entitled to receive either an ordinary or a special family pension, depending on the circumstances of the death.

INVALID SERVICE

Invalidated service persons are awarded disability pensions for two reasons: first because their service is terminated prematurely due to a disability that is related to their service; second, because they are unable to complete their terms of engagement, which include their aspirations for promotion and appointment. By losing their service, they also lose their prospective earnings and their earning potential is reduced at a relatively young age.

DISABILITY ELEMENT

Disability Element is a compensation that is given to the persons who have a disability that is Attributable to or Aggravated by their military service, but who are retained in service despite their disability. These persons can complete their terms of agreement, tenure, and pensionable service, and are eligible for service pension or gratuity. They are also granted promotions and appointments during their service, and their employment and earning potential are not affected by their disability. Therefore, they are not entitled to disability pension, which is awarded to those who are invalidated from service due to their disability.

NOTE : “The Disability Element is not a pension, and hence it is not authorized to the next of kin (NOK) of the person.

IMPAIRMENT RELIEF

Impairment Relief is the new name given to the Disability Element that was previously awarded to the personnel who retired or were discharged from service with a disability that was attributable to or aggravated by their military service. The change of name is meant to distinguish it from the Disability Element of Disability Pension, which is granted to personnel who are invalidated from service due to their disability. However, the change of name does not affect the nature or the amount of the compensation that is given to the eligible personnel.

INVALIDING FROM SERVICE

Invaliding from service is a term that refers to the situation when a person is medically unfit to continue their military service and is discharged from the service after being declared Low Medical Category (LMC). This applies to the personnel who are not offered alternative employment by their commanding officer (CO) or who are offered alternative employment but are unable to complete their terms of engagement. This does not apply to the officers, who have different rules for invaliding from service.

DCMB V/S RIAB

DCMB (DISABILITY COMPENSATION MEDICAL BOARD)

DCMB (Disability Compensation Medical Board) is a system that was introduced in 1987 to deal with the cases of Armed Forces Personnel who became low medical category (LMC) for life due to a disability that was attributable to or aggravated by their military service. These personnel were allowed to continue their service despite their disability, but they had to appear before a DCMB, which assessed their disability and awarded them a lump-sum compensation as a full and final settlement.

Alternatively, they could choose to reject the compensation and opt for the Disability Element of the pension when they retire. However, the procedure of DCMB was discontinued and the personnel who remained in LMC were not given any compensation or pension for their disability.

RIAB (RETENTION CUM IMPAIRMENT ASSESSMENT BOARD)

RIAB (Retention cum Impairment Assessment Board) is a new system introduced by the Indian government in Sep 2023 to deal with the cases of Armed Forces Personnel who are permanently unfit for their military service due to a disability that is caused or worsened by their service. These personnel are classified as low medical category (LMC) for life after failing to improve their medical fitness within two reclassification cycles or four years, whichever is earlier. The RIAB then decides whether to discharge them from the service or to retain them in a suitable alternative employment.

If the disability is attributable to or aggravated by the military service, the personnel are also offered a lump sum compensation, which is now called Capitalized Impairment Relief. However, they can choose to forego this Disability Compensation and opt for Impairment Relief, which is a monthly payment that is given in addition to their retirement or service pension or gratuity.

POWERS OF COMPETENT AUTHORITY

Competent Authority is a term that refers to the authority and responsibility of the officials who adjudicate the claims of death or disability compensation for the Armed Forces personnel. The claims are based on the findings, advisories, and recommendations of the medical boards, which are provisional until they are verified and approved by the competent authority. The competent authority varies depending on the rank and category of the personnel, and the nature and degree of their disability. There are no changes in the competent authority as per the new guidelines of 2023. However, the confirmation of all accepted cases is done by one level higher than the specified competent authority, as a measure of quality control.

CHANGES IN GMO, 2023

1.  Some medical conditions that were assessed too high in the past are listed below with their revised assessments for calculation of Disability Compensation:

DisabilityOld PercentageNew Percentage
Primary Hypertension30%5%
Diabetes Mellitus20%5%
Sensory Neural Hearing Loss20%Nil to 20%
Low Back Ache20%5%
ACL Tear30%10%
Recurrent Depressive Disorder40%5%
Seizure Disorder20%5%
Coronary Artery Disease30%10%
Reference Table

2.  Some of the disabilities that were under-valued in the previous assessments and are now revised for calculation of Disability Compensation are as follows:

DisabilityOld PercentageNew Percentage
Amputation of Dominant Index Finger Proximal Phalanx14%25%
Above Elbow Amputation of Lower 1/3rd of Arm80%90%
Frost Bite (Loss of all Toes)10%20%
Loss of Right Lower Limbs Mine Blast50%90%
Mine Blast Loss of Field of Vision in Both Eyes40%100%
Reference Table

Conclusion

The ER 2023 and the GMO 2023 are the latest guidelines issued by the Indian government to streamline and simplify the pension and Disability Compensation of the Armed Forces Personnel who are disabled in the line of duty. These guidelines aim to provide fair and adequate benefits to the personnel and their families while ensuring transparency and accountability in the process.

The ER 2023 and the GMO 2023 introduce some significant changes in the terminologies, entitlement, assessment, and invalidation of Disability, as well as the introduction of a new system of Retention cum Impairment Assessment Board (RIAB) for calculation of Disability Compensation for the personnel who are LMC for life and eligible for Capitalized Impairment Relief. The ER 2023 and the GMO 2023 also clarify some of the existing provisions and address some of the issues and anomalies that were raised by the stakeholders. The ER 2023 and the GMO 2023 are expected to improve the welfare and morale of the Armed Forces Personnel and their families and to uphold the dignity and honour of their service to the nation.

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