Tribune press service
New Delhi, July 18
In what might define a future model for claiming “disability” due to service in the armed forces, the forces are moving towards the idea that lifestyle-related illnesses should not deserve benefits such as pension tax-exempt, while those who sustain physical injuries in combat on peace assignments should receive their due.
With nearly 40 percent of “disability” cases related to lifestyle issues, the Army believes that “non-physical” injuries should not deserve any benefit. âPeople have been asking for disability for hypertension, back pain, diabetes, hearing loss and obesity-related disorders,â a senior military official told The Tribune. Such “non-physical” illnesses were not caused during combat or even an accident during a military exercise. These people with “non-physical” injuries are also eligible for “disability pensions” which provide that the pension and disability pension are tax-free.
The invalidity pension is staggered according to the injury suffered by the person. And this gradation is also reflected in the amount of the âinvalidity pensionâ. It can range from 60 percent to 15 percent of the last payday. In the case of officers at colonel level and above, the pension and disability pension may collectively be between Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 2 lakh per month.
Last week Defense Minister Rajnath Singh told Rajya Sabha that “no soldier with a disability will be inconvenienced.”
The âhandicap gradingâ system makes a distinction of its own. For people wounded or disabled in combat, the government provides free education, including board and lodging for their children. This facility has no fee cap and children can do MMBS, BCA, LLB, among other degrees from any institute of their choice. These soldiers are also entitled to free medical facilities until they are alive.
The issue of the taxation of disability pensions has become a political issue and has been raised twice in Parliament. The Central Commission for Direct Taxes (CBDT) issued a circular on June 24, declaring that the disability pension would be taxed if the soldier had served his sentence in the armed forces. The circular indicated that only âdisabledâ people would continue to benefit from tax advantages. The ordinance drew strong reactions, with some veterans calling it “taxation of people with disabilities.” The Defense Ministry has requested clarification from the CBDT and the matter is under review by the Ministry.