Thousands of vets missing out on better benefits

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) - Only a fraction of wounded veterans who could get better benefits have applied for them in the two years since Congress ordered the Pentagon to review disputed disability claims.

Numbers provided to The Associated Press show that fewer than 1,000 vets have applied out of the 77,000 the Pentagon estimates are eligible to appeal. Advocates want the Physical Disability Board of Review to do a better job getting the word out.

Congress created the board after investigations found inconsistencies in how the military assigns disability ratings. That rating is critical because veterans rated below 30 percent receive a one-time severance payment and have to get health care from the VA system.

A rating over 30 percent means a monthly income and military health care.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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