Confusing disability rules punish retired veterans

info@islandpacket.comJuly 23, 2013 

I served 24 years in the Marine Corps, retiring in 1990. In April 2012, I filed a disability claim with the Department of Veteran Affairs for ringing in my ears (tinnitus) and bilateral hearing loss. I am deaf in my left ear and half deaf in my right.

On July 15, I was notified that I would receive disability for my tinnitus at 10 percent and zero percent for my hearing loss. They cited my Combat Action Ribbon (Vietnam) for their findings. The only proof of the tinnitus is my word. The proof of my hearing loss is well documented by numerous hearing tests. So I guess combat doesn't affect hearing loss nor does working on jets for 10 years.

Now for the confounding part. The VA is going to pay me $129 a month, then turn around and take the $129 from my retirement pay each month. The VA says, "You can't double dip." A retired service person, unless awarded more than 50 percent disability, must pay back the disability payment via their retirement check. This makes absolutely no sense to me and had I known this in the beginning, I would have never gone through this 15-month ordeal.

A non-retiree who has served pays back nothing for any amount of disability they receive. So a retiree is punished for a disability they incurred while serving this fine country because they served too long. Pathetic.

Can the same be said for the retired government employees or Social Security recipients who served? How about members of Congress?

Gary Lightfoot

St. Helena Island

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