All 50 states have regional Department of Veterans’ Affairs offices where Veterans can file claims for disability benefits. These benefits are granted to Veterans with service-connected disabilities – mental or physical problems that are directly connected 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 0% and 100%. A 100% 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 0% disability rating is the lowest possible score that a Veteran can receive and means that the VA recognizes a connection between their condition and their military service but it is not disabling enough for the VA to provide monthly compensation.
While Veterans in all 50 U.S. states can file disability claims and access other resources through their local VA offices, Veterans’ benefits can differ from state to state. Also, the statistics regarding the Veteran population in certain states are noticeably better than in other states – fewer Veterans in these states are in poverty, fewer are unemployed, and some even have state-specific benefits offered to them.
If you are a Veteran living in one of these states, you may have access to unique benefits that you might not know about. Keep reading to learn more.
The state of Wyoming has a noticeably sizable Veteran population. More than 10 percent of the entire state population are Veterans, and there are more VA facilities in Wyoming than in many other states. A high Veteran population is often a telltale sign of a Veteran-friendly state. A high concentration of Veterans in one area often indicates that the state looks kindly on Veterans and their familes. Wyoming is no exception to this rule.
The Veteran unemployment rate is low – below 4%, and it sits lower than the state’s overall unemployment rate. This means more Veterans in Wyoming have jobs on average than non-Veterans. 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.
The state of Wyoming also offers plenty of recreational benefits to Veterans, especially to disabled Veterans. State fishing licenses are available to Veterans with at least a 50% disability rating, as state parks and camping passes. These perks may seem small, but they show that the state of Wyoming aims to honor Veterans as much as possible.
Because there is an 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 Veterans ease of access to crucial care. The majority of Veterans in Wyoming receive some form of healthcare from their local VA office, which indicates that Wyoming’s VA facilities are actively working to serve the state’s Veteran population as much as possible.
Like Wyoming, Alaska has a noticeably high Veteran population. However, the Veteran population of Alaska is even higher than Wyoming’s – 12.5 percent. While Alaska does have fewer VA offices than some other states, the offered Veterans’ benefits 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. However, the preference increases to 10 points for disabled Veterans, making Alaska an especially generous state for Veterans with disabilities.
Like Wyoming, Alaska also has plenty of recreational benefits to offer to Veterans, especially disabled Veterans. One perk for disabled Veterans specific to Alaska is that all disabled Veterans get a discounted state parks pass. Disabled Veterans with a rating of over 50% get a free parks pass, adding to the access that Veterans with disabilities have to the state’s natural beauty.
Because of Alaska’s notably low unemployment rate, employment preference for Veterans and other significant benefits make the last frontier an excellent place for any former military members to live. The state is especially ideal for disabled Veterans thanks to the high employment preference and special recreational perks.
If you are 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 perks that Disabled Veterans can receive in North Dakota is specifically for service-connected PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder is extremely common in Veterans, and it’s a condition that can leave a Veteran affected for decades. Treatment for PTSD is mainly accomplished through 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 it much easier to qualify for a service dog. Service dogs can be extremely expensive due to training costs, veterinary appointments, and more, and they are financially out of the question for many disabled Veterans. Fortunately, the VA of North Dakota can grant a pass to Veterans with PTSD that makes service dogs significantly more affordable.
Veterans living in North Dakota can also receive significant tax benefits as well – specifically disabled Veterans. Disabled Veterans in North Dakota can qualify for hardship grants, which can help cover medical costs and allow a disabled Veteran to continue seeking the treatment they need for their condition. With a government grant, the costs of expensive doctor’s visits, dental work, hearing aids, and more can be much lower.
If you are a Veteran with a disability, you can file a claim at your regional VA office to apply for monthly tax-free benefits. You can also apply online at the VA’s eBenefits website. The regulations for VA disability benefits are the same in every state, so there is no specific place where you can live in the US where it is easier to qualify for benefits. In addition, disability compensation rates are the same throughout the country. However, 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 at the VA works the same way, no matter 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. Whichever method of submitting your claim is more convenient for you is the best way to get the process started.
After you file your disability claim, your local VA facility will call you in for 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 service connection, the VA will more than likely deny your disability claim. If your claim gets denied and you believe the VA has made a wrongful decision, you can make an appeal with the help of an attorney.
It’s best to never go through the VA appeals process on your own. With a dedicated, skilled attorney at your side, appealing a VA decision can be much easier, and your odds of getting a better outcome are much higher. An attorney can help you compile evidence to present to the VA, and they will know what the VA is looking for that can influence their decision.
No matter which state you live in, the VA can grant you significant disability benefits if you live with a service-connected condition. However, certain states offer additional benefits that can make a major difference in any Veteran’s everyday life, especially a Veteran with a disability. If you are looking for a state to relocate to, the three covered in this post are excellent choices.
Berry Law Firm was founded by Vietnam Veteran and lawyer John Stevens Berry in 1965. We have been representing veterans for decades. If you are fighting the VA for your disability benefits, we may be able to help. Contact us today.
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