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How Do We Put a Value on Help to Those Who Served Our Country?

by CBJC Staff December 8, 2017

Earlier this year, the City Bar Justice Center’s Veterans Assistance Project (VAP) enlisted the pro bono services of the global advisory firm Stout Risius Ross, LLC (“Stout”) to develop a financial analysis tool to determine the economic impact of VAP’s pro bono legal representation of veterans. VAP provides disabled, low-income veterans in New York City with free legal assistance on issues related to their claims (and the claims of their survivors) for veterans’ benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). One such benefit is service-connected disability compensation. Service-connected disability compensation is a monthly benefit paid to veterans who have an injury, disease or illness that was incurred or aggravated as a result of service in the armed forces of the United States. A successful benefits application comes with months and sometimes years of retroactive benefits resulting from delays in adjudication in addition to ongoing monthly payments for the duration of the injury, disease or illness.

Since our ailments don’t typically get better with age, many VAP clients will receive their service connected disability compensation for the rest of their lives. Because of this phenomenon, the impact that VAP has on its veteran clients often far exceeds the numbers written on the paper decision handed down by the VA. Stout also believed that there were untracked outcomes hiding in VAP’s data and agreed to take on VAP as a pro bono client to help us analyze and evaluate the full-picture of our economic impact. Stout analyzed VAP’s case data from the past two and a half years to create a financial analysis tool to determine the lifetime value of each successful veteran’s case. The program uses the client’s age, race, gender, monthly compensation award, retroactive compensation award, and the closing date of their case to determine the future and lifetime value of an award. Data is inputted by VAP staff and linked to lifetime expectancy tables produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Thanks to the gracious donation by Stout of their expertise, the City Bar Justice Center is now able to see the value of VAP’s cases three years after closing, five years after closing, ten years after closing, and for the expected lifetime of all the clients whose cases closed in the same calendar year. Below are such illustrations accurate as of December 1 2017:





One of the major takeaways from Stout’s valuation analysis, is how the smaller monthly payment awards begin to outweigh the larger retroactive awards after three years, and then exponentially so after five and ten years. In the grand scheme of a client’s lifetime, VAP’s monthly compensation recoveries generally impact the lives of veteran clients far more than lump sum retroactive awards veterans receive. Prior to working with Stout, VAP’s reportable outcomes started and ended with the two numbers presented in the VA’s disability rating decision, the monthly compensation award and its accompanying retroactive benefits. Now, VAP can measure its value far into the future. VAP hopes these metrics demonstrate, to funders and volunteers alike, the importance of monthly compensation awards in relation to retroactive benefit awards.

Stout also provided some qualitative analysis on the demographics of VAP’s clients, which are illustrated below.


After Stout’s initial analysis of data from 2015 through mid 2017, Stout presented VAP with the valuation model and trained VAP staff to use the program so that VAP can continue to measure its impacts for years to come. All of us at VAP are extremely grateful to Stout for their outstanding work and pro bono support!

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