All 50 states have regional Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offices where Veterans can file claims for disability benefits. These benefits are granted to Veterans with service-connected disabilities—mental or physical problems directly related to a Veteran’s military service. Service-related disabilities that qualify a Veteran for benefits can range from mild to extremely severe.
The VA rates disabled Veterans on a percentage-based scale. A Veteran whose claim is approved by the VA will receive a disability rating between zero percent and 100 percent.
A 100 percent disability rating typically indicates that a Veteran’s disability makes them completely ineligible for employment and significantly hinders their ability to function in everyday life.
A zero percent disability rating is the lowest possible score that a Veteran can receive. This rating means that the VA recognizes a connection between their condition and their military service, but the condition does not disable them enough for the VA to provide monthly compensation.
Veterans make up more than 10 percent of the entire Wyoming population, and you’ll find more VA facilities in Wyoming than in many other states.
A high concentration of Veterans often indicates that the state looks kindly on Veterans and their families. Wyoming is no exception to this rule.
The Veteran unemployment rate is low, less than 4 percent, which is lower than the state’s overall unemployment rate. This means more Veterans in Wyoming have jobs than non-Veterans, on average.
Veterans also can receive a five-point employment preference for government jobs on the state level. This employment preference can make it much easier for Veterans, including disabled Veterans, to find reliable jobs.
Wyoming also offers plenty of recreational benefits for Veterans, especially for disabled Veterans. Resident Veterans qualify for free lifetime bird, small game, and fishing licenses if they are honorably discharged and 65 years old or older, or if they are 100 percent disabled. They can receive this benefit as long as they remain a resident.
As of June 2023, the Parks for Patriots program allows Veterans to enter all state parks and historic sites for free. These perks may seem small, but they show that Wyoming honors Veterans as much as possible.
Because of the above-average number of VA facilities in Wyoming, it is much easier for disabled Veterans to seek the healthcare resources they need. Having a regional VA office nearby can make a major difference in a disabled Veteran’s ease of access to crucial care.
In fact, most Veterans in Wyoming receive some form of healthcare from their local VA office. This shows that Wyoming’s VA facilities actively work to serve the state’s Veteran population as much as possible.
Like Wyoming, Alaska has a noticeably high Veteran population. However, the percentage of Veterans living in Alaska is even higher than Wyoming’s, with Veterans accounting for 12.5 percent of the entire population.
While Alaska has fewer VA offices than some other states, the offered Veterans’ benefits can make up for the lower concentration of VA facilities.
The Veteran unemployment rate in Alaska is also significantly lower than the state average, which indicates that Alaskan Veterans have an easier time finding employment than the average citizen.
Alaska is also notable as a Veteran-friendly state thanks to its high employment preferences for Veterans, especially disabled Veterans.
Like Wyoming, Alaska offers a five-point employment preference to Veterans seeking state jobs. Additionally, the preference increases to 10 points for disabled Veterans, making Alaska an especially generous state for Veterans with disabilities.
Like Wyoming, Alaska also offers plenty of recreational benefits for Veterans, especially disabled Veterans. Alaska also offers free state park passes and free hunting and fishing licenses for disabled Veterans with a rating of over 50 percent. All disabled Veterans can receive a free camping pass as well. These opportunities allow Veterans with disabilities free access to the state’s natural beauty.
The Last Frontier State is also an excellent place for former military members to live because of other benefits such as military credit toward state retirement, property tax exemptions, and education and tuition financial assistance. Veterans may also qualify for land purchase discounts and vehicle tag benefits.
If you are a Veteran living in North Dakota, you’re located in one of the most Veteran-friendly states in the country. With one of the highest average Veteran incomes, an extremely low unemployment rate, and significant tax benefits for Veterans, North Dakota is a great place for former military members to call home.
One of the unique perqs that disabled Veterans can receive in North Dakota specifically deals with service-connected PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder is extremely common in Veterans, and it can affect a Veteran for their entire lives. PTSD treatment mainly consists of therapy and medication, but service dogs can also play a key role in treating the disorder.
In North Dakota, disabled Veterans can receive a grant that makes qualifying for a service dog much easier. Service dogs can cost a lot of money due to training and veterinary expenses. These costs may make owning a service dog financially out of the question for many disabled Veterans.
Fortunately, the VA of North Dakota can make service dogs significantly more affordable for Veterans with PTSD.
Veterans living in North Dakota can also receive significant tax benefits—specifically disabled Veterans.
Disabled Veterans in North Dakota can qualify for hardship grants, which can help cover medical costs and allow disabled Veterans to continue seeking the treatment they need for their condition. A government grant can make the costs of expensive doctor’s visits, dental work, hearing aids, and more much more affordable.
The regulations for VA disability benefits are the same in every state, so where you live will not affect your eligibility for benefits or the process you must follow. In other words, no states make it easier to qualify for benefits.
In addition, disability compensation rates are the same throughout the country. This means a 50 percent disabled Veteran facing PTSD challenges will receive the same benefits in one state as a 50 percent disabled Veteran facing the same situation in another state.
Of course, as you now know, some states offer specific discounts and other benefits to disabled Veterans that can make it more advantageous to choose a specific state as your home.
Filing a disability claim with the VA works the same way, regardless of which state you live in. You can file a claim by mail after filling out a form online or submit your claim in person at your local VA facility. You can also work with a VA benefits lawyer to submit your claim and start the process.
After you file your disability claim, your local VA facility will set up a Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam. Depending on your disability, the C&P exam can involve various tests and evaluations that will help the VA determine the severity of your disability. The C&P exam can also play a role in the VA establishing the connection between your disability and your military service.
Without a service connection, the VA will more than likely deny your disability claim. If you believe the VA incorrectly denied your claim, you can file an appeal with the help of a VA claim denial attorney.
Don’t face the VA appeals process on your own. A dedicated, skilled attorney makes appealing a VA decision much easier, and your odds of obtaining a better outcome improve. An attorney can compile evidence to present to the VA, and they will know what information can influence the VA’s decision.
No matter which state you choose to live in, the VA can provide significant disability benefits if you have a service-connected condition. However, certain states offer additional benefits that can vastly improve any Veteran’s everyday life, especially a Veteran with a disability. If you are looking to live in a Veteran-friendly state, the three states we covered in this post make excellent choices.
You can trust the VA disability lawyers at Berry Law because we are Veterans fighting for Veterans. Berry Law was founded by Vietnam Veteran and lawyer John Stevens Berry in 1965, and we have represented Veterans for decades.
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