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December 4, 2012

Thank you for your assistance, help

NORMAN — I know I make people uncomfortable when I talk about their tax dollars paying for my groceries, my mortgage or the cruise I’m going on next month. I want people to be bothered that their tax money is supporting me, and I want people to be bothered when I talk about my husband.

I don’t really care if people are uncomfortable around him. He is uncomfortable around them, not least of all because he cannot remember who they are. I want people to be bothered because we send young men off to a war we hardly remember or understand, and I want people to understand some of the costs, such as my mortgage and the cruise I’m going on next month.

Civilians may be grateful for the service of a soldier who lost a limb, but they may not want that gratitude to come from their hard-earned paychecks. An Iraq veteran, who had a career before joining the military, has come home to depend on disability payments, and he does not want anyone to think that he is lazy and unwilling to work.

Maybe civilians are OK with supporting veterans financially, but our culture tends to focus on the idea people drawing Social Security Disability Insurance are lazy. It does not matter if they are on SSDI because they cannot remember what street they live on.

Veterans can double dip, receiving both VA (Veterans Affairs) disability and SSDI. The maximum amount of SSDI payment, assuming you are a disabled individual with a spouse and a child, is $1,892 per month. The maximum VA disability amount, with a spouse and one child, is $3,037.

However, SSDI is an all-or-nothing game. SSDI either grants that an individual is disabled and then pays him or her based on their projected lifetime earnings or SSDI is denied and pays nothing. The VA is a convoluted game of numbers where each portion of yourself that you lost is worth a different amount.

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