Armed Forces Disability Pension Rule Change: All You Need To Know

The new rules reportedly expand the list of covered disabilities and diseases, modify the assessment procedure, and fix the percentage of disability.

Outlook Money
October 4, 2023
Disability Pension For Armed Forces

Disability Pension For Armed Forces

The government has announced several changes in the disability pension rules of the armed forces, effective September 21, 2023. The new guidelines are called “Entitlement Rules of Casualty Pension and Disability Compensation Award to Armed Forces Personnel 2023.”


The Defence Ministry describes disability as a condition resulting in “long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment” that hinders full participation in society or “a functional impairment that inhibits an individual from effectively discharging duties of a military nature or being provided alternate employment within the service, even though the individual may otherwise be fit to participate normally in society.”

New Disability Pension Rules

The new rules expand the list of covered disabilities and diseases, modify the assessment procedure, and fix the percentage of disability, according to The Tribune. The ministry also replaced the term “disability element” with “impairment relief”. Service members who contract illnesses or develop impairments, particularly in high-altitude environs or due to strenuous physical activities, will qualify for disability pensions. Cadets and officers will receive an ex-gratia payment instead of disability compensation.

Need For Rule Change

The new policy comes after the armed forces’ inter-services panel, chaired by the army’s adjutant general, reviewed the personnel pension-related issues earlier this year. The Department of Military Affairs had formed the panel after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in a report presented in Parliament on March 27, raised concerns about pensions awarded to a “higher percentage” of officers, especially medical officers.

According to the Times of India (TOI), the CAG report stated that 36-40 per cent of officers leaving service each year receive disability pensions, compared to 15-18 per cent of jawans.

The CAG report also noted a “significantly higher” percentage of retiring medical officers (mostly doctors) receiving disability pensions, 44-58 per cent, compared to other army officers. Furthermore, 22 and 13 per cent of disability pensions were granted to officers and those below the officer ranks, respectively, exclusively on the grounds of lifestyle diseases like primary hypertension and Type-2 diabetes, TOI cited the CAG report as saying.

CAG had also reportedly requested the Defence Ministry to investigate the reasons behind the high percentage of officers claiming the “disability element” of their pension. The armed forces’ disability benefits are exempt from income tax.

The Indian Express reported that defence pensions have increased over the past five years, from Rs 1.08 lakh crore in 2018-19 to Rs 1.38 lakh crore in 2023-24. The amount allocated for disability pensions also witnessed significant growth over the past two decades, reaching around Rs 4,000 crore in 2022-23, it said, citing government sources.

Opposition To New Rules

Meanwhile, the All India Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association has reportedly objected to the changes and demanded the withdrawal of the Defence Ministry’s notification last week. It contends that the new policy is “less favourable” to soldiers. It reportedly alleged that denying disability pensions to cadets puts them at a disadvantage.

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