Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan on Friday said there was “incentive to seek disability pension” in the armed forces which off late had jumped to 40 per cent among officers as per the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, but hoped the “slightly clearer” revised entitlement rules will reduce the “possibility of its misuse”.
The different categories of the identified disability, received by soldiers during service that results in medical downgrades, entitles them to a 20 to 50 per cent higher tax-exempted retirement pension. “A couple of years back, only three to four per cent claimed disability but the CAG said it went to 40 per cent,” observed CDS Chauhan during a press briefing called to weed out “misapprehensions in certain quarters of our ex-servicemen on the revision of provisions” that became effective from September 21, 2023.
Ex-servicemen had taken afront to revised ‘Entitlement Rules for Casualty Pension and Disability Compensation Awards to Armed Forces Personnel, 2023’ and criticised the government on some aspects of redefining eligibility criteria for disability pension. They claimed, for instance, that the introduction of the “impairment relief” concept for the first time would make the previous “disability element” redundant. This would lead to drastic cut in the disability pension; veterans had expressed their apprehension.
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While talking about the “correct perspective” in the revised rules, the CDS said that the revised entitlement rules has no retrospective application and it does not, in any manner, alter the emoluments of war widow, family pensioners or veterans. “There is no change in the entitlement for any category of personnel being granted compensation for death or disability. The disability element has been renamed as Impairment Relief in respect of only those personnel who are not invalidated out due to their nature of disabilities and continue to serve till their term of engagement,” he added.
The 62-year-old General re-emphasised that change in name of the impairment relief does not affect the nature of entitlement or quantum of emoluments. The revised policy, based on the recommendations of study carried out by the three services of Army, Air Force and Navy, will not put armed forces personnel at disadvantage compared to their civilian counterparts.
“The revision of Entitlement Rules and Guide to Medical Officers will help retain high degree of operational efficiency and motivation in all ranks of the armed forces,” CDS Anil Chauhan stated. At the same time, the tweaked policy would also protect the genuine interest of personnel and help the services to run their forces efficiently and manage their cadre properly by retaining the highest standard of physical fitness of its people, he pointed out.
Disability as a result of life style diseases like hypertension have seen modification and graded in the revised policy, bringing more clarity to distinguish them with those acquired in flagged professional duties, the General elaborated.
On queries whether revised entitlements would also be tax free, he stated that the issue is sub judice so he would not like to talk about it.
Before reaching out through media, General Chauhan narrated various steps were taken by the Ministry of Defence like calling a meeting of ex-servicemen associations to address their misgivings and posting clarifications online through various mediums including via official twitter handles to allay their fears.