VA Payments Differ From State To State

April 14, 2008

One would think that when a Military Member retires from the military or becomes disabled, that the payment they receive would be the same, regardless of what state they lived in. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Veterans in Ohio, ranked second-to-last in the amount of compensation that they receive for disabilities. Because of this, federal lawmakers are looking into why disabled veterans in other states receive, in some cases, thousand of dollars more.

In Ohio, more than 85,000 veterans receive disability payments and on average, their compensation is less than their peers in other states, according to a 2006 Veterans Affairs survey. Indiana is the only state, where veterans earned less than those in Ohio.

“The veterans living in Ohio sacrificed as much as veterans living elsewhere,” said Representative Zack Space, a Dover Democrat. “There is no reason that a veteran here should receive less than veterans in other states.”

Representative Space is pushing for the VA to have a national standard for payments to disabled veterans. For example, veterans in Ohio earn as much as $4,800 less than those in New Mexico. Veterans in Oklahoma, receive $4,185 more than those in Ohio and those in West Virginia earn $3,857 more. Space and other lawmakers on the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs, are looking into this disparity. One reason for the difference, is that each state’s veterans system sets its own standards for disability compensations. The differences can range from what one states considers “partial disability” which might be considered “total disability” in another. The very same veteran, might be considered as a more serious case, from one state to another and thus eligible for a greater payment.

“There should be a standard rate for all veterans across the US,” said Frank Anderson, a veteran from East Cleveland.

Representative Space has introduced a bill, which would instruct the VA to oversee the system and evaluate how each state rates disabilities. Some veterans are skeptical though, as to whether such legislation could solve the problem.

“Every one of us is different,” said Richard Healy, a 61 year old who helps other disabled veterans file their forms. “If a doctor, for instance, says a veteran is minimally disabled for post traumatic stress disorder, what does “minimally” mean” Interpretation is a big factor.”

Some feel that the VA lacks meaningful training for those who make the decisions on the amount of disability that a veteran may have. According to VA spokesman, Steven Westerfeld, the VA is starting to train their workers who are tasked with deciding each veteran’s level of disability. As well, Mr. Westerfeld says that the VA is considering the consolidation of the grading system.

This is a problem that definitely need to be fixed. Our veterans, regardless of the state they reside in, should be compensated the same for their injuries. Each state should have the same rating system in place and follow the exact same guidelines. Training is a must, for those who are making those decisions. I look at it this way … our veterans have given a portion of their lives to serve our country and they should, each and every one of them, be shown the respect, by compensating them in the same manner. That’s the least they deserve.

Army Times


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