SERVING OUR VETERANS: Service Connected Rating
In my last column, I provided basic information on four ways a veteran can be approved for a service connected disability (direct, aggravated, presumptive and secondary).
When one hears a veteran is receiving compensation for a service connected disability or disease, one must understand that this involves only money. It is “financial” compensation based on the percent the disability causes as determined by the Department of Veterans affairs (VA). Compensation cannot fix or repair the damage done, it is only money given to the veteran to make him “financially whole” again. What does this mean?
First, a disability rating is given in terms of percent, in 0 to 100% increments. When the VA determines financial compensation, they first decide how much money does a single veteran, with no dependants, need to earn to make an adequate living. Using an example with simple math, let’s say the VA determines a veteran needs $4000.00 a month to meet his basic living expenses. So, if the veteran is determined to have a 60% disability rating, the VA would say that even with the disability, the veteran should still be able to earn $1600.00 a month (100 % – 60% times $4000). The VA will then make up the difference and provide the veteran a monthly check of $2400.00 ($4000.00 minus $1600.00). This amount will make him “financially whole” again. Other factors can increase the amount above the basic payment. For example, if the veteran is married and has dependants, the compensation amount will be increased.
Let us look at another example. Let us say a veteran is receiving a 50% disability rating for loss of a leg below the knee and another 20% rating for a permanent back injury and another 10% for hearing loss. All these issues occurred during his time on active duty in military service. Does this mean his total disability rating is 80%? No, multiple disability ratings are not cumulative to find the total. On multiple ratings, the VA uses different formulas and tables to determine the total compensation rating. I will not go into these details as they get rather complex. In this case, using VA math, the total rating would be 60%, not the 80% as our high school math would calculate. Just understand the rating(s) are done by qualified examiners. Examiners may not always end up with the exact same total rating percent. That is why one should also understand that each rating is unique to the individual veteran. That is why the rating may not always be the same between two veterans with similar issues. It is a complex and detailed process and partly determined by the interpretation of the examiner. If a veteran does not agree with the final rating, he/she has the right to appeal the decision. The appeal process is a topic for another day.
Remember, there is no time limit on when a veteran can apply for a service connected disability. Again, please contact me on questions or issues relating to the matter, or any other benefits that a veteran is entitled to.
On a side note, I would like to inform all veterans of two upcoming March events. A Female Veteran Outreach will be held March 21, 2019 from noon to 7:00 PM at the Cando Arts Center (lower level of the Audi Theater) at 4th and Main. Towner County is hosting this coordinated outreach to all female veterans in Towner, Rolette, Pierce and surrounding counties. Please bring your DD 214 or Veteran ID card. For more information, contact Kathy Benson, Towner County VSO, at 701-968-4363.
The Minot Vet Center will host the 7th Annual Celebration for Vietnam Veterans. It will be held at the Grand Hotel, Minot (1505 N. Broadway) on Friday, March 29, 2019 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. Food and drinks will be provided. It is open to the public. Call 701-852-0177 if you would like more information.
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