The Norman Transcript


December 4, 2012

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I wish I could find the simple page where it tells me what each piece of my husband is worth. How much is it worth each time he forgets what day or month it is? What percentage of our monthly income is that? Does a bigger allotment cover when he forgets to pick our child up from school? How much compensation is earmarked for when he almost hits me because he didn’t hear me coming? SSDI simply says, “You can no longer reasonably be expected to work.”

VA disability, though, tells a somewhat different story. If you have tinnitus, ringing in your ears, whether it is intermittent in a single ear or constant and unbearable in both ears, you will receive $127 a month, which is roughly a nice date a month: babysitter, dinner, a movie, a large popcorn and two Icees. If you have tinnitus and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), you will receive a rating for your PTSD and a rating for your tinnitus. PTSD could receive a rating of 10 percent if the symptoms are controlled by constant medication or a rating of 100 percent if a veteran cannot remember the names of his family members. Also available are 30 percent, 50 percent or 70 percent.

In general, almost punching your wife, your dog or your child when they startle you — combined with an inability to feel safe ever and a general feeling of uselessness — is worth one mortgage payment a month. Headaches are also available in a variety of ratings. My husband’s current rating for headaches is worth roughly the cost of swimming lessons for our children at an excellent (expensive) swim school and the ability to buy them Christmas presents without wondering how we will afford groceries.

Now the VA provides a caregiver stipend, too, for post 9/11 combat veterans’ care-takers, depending on how many hours a week a doctor believes your husband needs care. There are three tiers. The lowest tier agrees to pay your utility bills because you have to keep your husband on track. The middle tier agrees to keep your family safe. The top tier agrees that your marriage is a full-time job.

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