In 2005, Ohio’s disabled veterans received less money on average than veterans in any other state. In a move that should help some Ohio veterans, recent reform measures have moved Ohio’s ranking to third from last. A 12% increase over the last two years brings the average amount of money an Ohio disabled veteran receives up to $9,047.
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki recently visited Ohio and heard the long standing complaints from veterans that the VA does not give disability claims in Ohio the same treatment as the rest of the country. Secretary Shinseki answered these complaints by reiterating one of his main focus areas: fixing VA’s disability-claims process.
Ohio disability claims are processed through local county offices and then passed through the regional Cleveland office. Every VA office has the same standards and ratings yet Ohio claims have consistently fallen below the national average.
A 2005 study blamed the discrepancies on veteran population, i.e., older veterans with more severe disabilities most likely will be granted more money. Conversely, the study found regional offices applied VA standards inconsistently.
The VA has initiated standardized national training of people who review and make decisions on disability claims as opposed to regional office training under standards possibly twisted by learned bad habits.
2008 was a productive year for policy changes that help disabled Ohio veterans. First, a 2008 Ohio law now requires:
- Audits of the regional offices; and
- Performance evaluations of personnel charged with deciding disability ratings.
Second, the Ohio Department of Veterans Services placed a state employee at the Cleveland regional office. This employee’s purpose is to help people preparing disability claims at the local level prepare and file them effectively.
There are concerns that claims processing has slowed down and the focus being placed on the younger disabled veterans detracts from the older veterans’ claims. While Ohio disabled veterans are getting more money than they were in the past, only time will tell if Ohio will continue to improve their treatment of their disabled veterans.
Learn more about Ohio’s disabled veterans and their disability payments.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.