Defence personnel and Record offices are still under the misconception that a minimum 20% disability is required for earning a disability element of disability pension. This misconception stems from the fact that the said 20% figure is mentioned in Regulations 48 and 173 of the Pension Regulations dealing with grant of disability pension.
However, the said criterion of 20% minimum requirement has already been abrogated with effect from 01-01-1996 but only for invalided personnel. Hence, there is no requirement of minimum 20% disability for earning a disability element for those post-1996 retirees who were invalided from service and such invalided personnel are entitled to a disability element by rounding off the disability to 50% even in case they are medically boarded out with 01% disability. The minimum 20% disability requirement however remains intact for those disabled retirees who have been discharged on completion of terms or have superannuated.
The Govt, after the 5th CPC, had brought disabled defence personnel at par with civilian disabled personnel and had abrogated the minimum 20% requirement for earning a disability element for those personnel who were invalided. The reason for this was that normally it is not expected from the authorities to invalid out personnel with disabilities less than 20%, hence the govt had taken a considered decision that if such a situation arose then such invalided personnel shall be given the benefit of disability element with rounding off to 50% even if the disability was 01%.
This becomes clear from the heading of Para 7 and Para 7.2 of Govt of India, MoD Letter dated 31-01-2001 which provides that disabilities ‘less than 50%’, (that is, without any minimum criterion of 20%) would be reckoned as 50% for disability element purposes. Further the heading of Para 8 read with Para 8.1 and more particularly Para 8.2 clearly stipulate that in cases of individuals retained in service (and not invalided), no disability element shall be paid for disabilities below 20%. This condition of minimum 20% has only been imposed in Para 8 (retirement / discharge cases) and not in Para 7 (invalidation cases).
Though the office of the PCDA(P) and the MOD are both aware of the abrogation of the 20% criterion and are granting the benefit whenever papers are processed to them, many Record offices remain unaware of the same and are not sending the documents for continuation of disability pension in invalidation cases where the disability has fallen below 20% or when the disability was initially assessed at below 20% but still the person was invalided out.
(SOURCE-INDIAN MIL BLOG)