Veterans’ Disability Benefits Vary Widely by State, Study Finds
Disability pay for injured veterans varies widely from state to state, according to a new study conducted by the Institute for Defense Analysis, the AP/Arizona Daily Star reports.
The 50-page report, which is the first to examine scientifically the cause of variance in veteran disability pay, was made available to the Associated Press.
The examination was launched after reports in 2005 showed wide disparities in payments to veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The study was conducted over a period of about 18 months.
The study found that average annual disability payments varied from $7,556 in Ohio to $12,395 in New Mexico. The nationwide average was $8,890, according to the study.
The study found that about one-third of disparities in disability payments could be attributed to poor agency standards and inadequate training.
The VA has in the past mostly attributed the problems to factors outside of its control, such as the number of Vietnam veterans in a state -- who on average receive higher payments -- and whether a veteran had legal assistance while making a claim.
As a result of poor standards and training, VA regional offices often had too much authority and discretion over how much pay a veteran received, the study found. The study also reached several other conclusions:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder claims accounted for the highest disability pay, averaging $20,000 annually to more than 200,000 veterans;
- Veterans who receive legal help or aid from advocacy groups received on average $11,162, compared with $4,728 for those who had none;
- About two-thirds of veterans received advocacy help, with the highest representation in North Dakota, at 81.9%, and the lowest in Maryland, with 44.8%;
- Vietnam veterans received annual compensation of $11,670, compared with $7,410 for veterans of other wars; and
- Veterans of the Gulf War received the lowest average payments of $6,506 per year (AP/Arizona Daily Star, 7/20).