New Study Shows Discrepancies in Disabililty Payments to Veterans.

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An internal study launched by the Department of Veterans Affairs finds Ohio’s injured veterans on average receive the lowest disability pay. The report concludes the handling of cases is uneven, depending on where vets live, and some vets may be shortchanged.

Disability payments in Ohio average about $7,500 per disabled vet, per year. It’s the lowest in the nation. The VA currently pays benefits to more than 24,000,000 veterans; one million of whom live in Ohio. Ryan Steinbach is a spokesman for the Veterans Administration in Chicago.

“It’s a matter of statistics,” Steinbach says. “States with a higher number of veterans living in them are usually going to skew toward a higher percentage of disability.”

But the report, Steinbach says, has turned into a “statistical nightmare.” Payments are made to vets based on their disability, not where they live. He says the math becomes more complicated when medical determinations are more difficult to make. That would include findings for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

“If a soldier’s arm is amputated, it’s very specific how much disability a person would get for that,” Steinbach says. “However things like PTSD, or Diabetes which could have been caused by Agent Orange or by many other factors including a person’s personal diet, there’s a lot of interpretation that has to be done.”

Steinbach says it’s possible there may be discrepancies in the amount of payments for Post Traumatic Stress because, he says, it’s a disorder that’s hard to quantify. But the study’s author, David Hunter of the Institute for Defense Analysis, lays some of the blame on poor VA standards and inadequate training. Hunter says that different raters could reasonably arrive at different results. The VA’s Steinbach disagrees.

“Every individual veteran’s case is weighed according to that individual veteran,” he says. “That individual veteran will receive the compensation that veteran deserves. If they do not feel they got what they deserve, they have an appeals process.”

But veterans are cautioned to take along some legal assistance when they go before the VA. Those who do receive an average payment of about $11,000 annually. Those who don’t: $4,700.