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Bill would streamline tests for disabled veterans

By Staff
Would ‘unify’ system that now issues multiple ratings
By NIKIE MAYO
News Editor
Shirley Smith and her son, Jeremy Goodman, a wounded Iraq war veteran, know what it’s like to cut through red tape. They’ve been doing it for the past two years, since Goodman was injured by a roadside bomb.
U.S. Rep. Walter Jones introduced a bill this week aimed at stopping that nightmare. The legislation would streamline the process used to evaluate wounded servicemen and servicewomen to determine if they are eligible for disability benefits.
Under the current system, a serviceman or servicewoman may undergo several evaluations before receiving “ratings” — one from Veterans Affairs and a separate one from the Defense Department. Those ratings make a difference in the kind of benefits a wounded warrior may receive. A rating of 30 percent or higher can grant a serviceman lifetime access to military benefits. A lesser rating may yield just a lump-sum payment for a veteran once he or she is discharged from service.
If Jones’ bill is enacted, the VA would determine a serviceman’s disability rating. The Defense Department would determine whether a member of the U.S. military is fit for duty and create a standardized test. Both of those decisions would be based on a single physical exam.