Two Wars and Higher Costs of Disability Benefits for Veterans: Veterans Unemployability

Ten years and two conflicts later the costs of war are taking their toll, leading to higher costs of disability benefits. More disabled veterans are returning home and seeking disability compensation when they can no longer go back to work.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs plans to spend approximately $57 billion on disability benefits in 2013. That is almost quadruple the amount that was spent in 2000, before troops were sent to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thanks to the advances in modern medicine more military service members survive injuries than in the past. In the recent conflicts many troops have been seriously injured, because of the heavy use of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and rocket-propelled grenades, also known as RPGs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that of the 2.3 million veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan one out of every four has a service-connected disability.

How Many Veterans are Unemployed?

Many military veterans find it challenging to get a job when they return home. It is even more daunting if they have a disability.

Depending on the extent of injuries the VA will make a determination of partial or full disability. These classifications determine the amount of benefits a disabled veteran will receive each month. Veterans may also earn their own money, if still capable of working.

One veteran was injured in friendly fire when two .50 caliber bullets punctured his left leg. He underwent 35 operations in 45 days. After three months in the hospital, he made a recovery, but still cannot bend his leg and suffers “extreme pain” walking on certain terrain. He was granted full disability. However, he is still sometimes able to do construction work.

The current compensation rate for 100 percent disability is $2,769 per month according to David Autry, a Navy veteran and spokesman for Disabled America Veterans who spoke with CNN. This amount varies for vets with families or those who suffered an amputated limb or lost reproductive abilities.

Most veterans prefer to work and do not want to file for disability benefits. However, when it becomes a struggle to find work or hold onto jobs, because of a disability an attorney can assist with filing for benefits.

Source: CNN Money, “A cost of war: Soaring disability benefits for veterans,” Aaron Smith, Apr. 27, 2012.