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Veterans with injuries filing more often for disability

War comes with inherent risks for those serving in the military. Unfortunately, this is taking a toll on America's newest veterans, including those in Wisconsin and everywhere else in the nation. Veterans are filing for Social Security disability benefits at a higher rate than ever before.

Approximately 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are filing for either temporary or permanent disability because of an injury. This is more than twice the rate of veterans from the first Gulf War.

The number of ailments claimed by the new veterans is more than three times as many as veterans from past wars. The recent veterans are claiming anywhere from 11 to 14 ailments at a time in their disability filings. In contrast, Vietnam veterans average fewer than four ailments in compensation claims. Veterans from World War II and Korea average about two ailments for which they receive compensation.

The recent veterans that are filing are also different from previous wars because there are more Reserves and National Guard personnel, which make up 28 percent of veterans filing for disability compensation. Approximately 31 percent of Reserve and National Guard veterans are seeking benefits, compared to 56 percent of career military veterans. More of the newer veterans filing are women, which account for 12 percent.

As we reported in an earlier post, there are there are 257,100 veterans who are 100 percent disabled. In addition, some believe the ailing economy is partially to blame for the unusually high number of veterans filing for disability benefits due to combat injuries. Also, outreach and advocacy programs and groups may have added to the increase in veterans seeking benefits in Wisconsin and the rest of the country.

Source: KSTP TV, "Almost Half of New Vets Seek Disability," Marilynn Marchione, May 28, 2012

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