Bill to align state retirement disability standards with Dept. of Veterans Affairs becomes law

AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - A measure to ensure the state retirement system has the same disability standards as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is now law in Maine.

Governor LePage signed the bill Friday.

It ensures disabled vets who are part of the public employee retirement system qualify for disability benefits if they become unable to work.

The legislation was inspired by Scott Couture, a former Marine Patrol officer who experienced serious post-traumatic stress after serving in Iraq.

When he became unable to work because of it, he was denied disability retirement benefits even though the VA determined he had a service-connected disability.

It took his family two years to get him the benefits.

"They finally prevailed, but only after years of appeals, legal costs, psychological testing and a lot of suffering on the part of themselves and their families," said Rep. Seth Berry, (D) Bowdoinham, the bill's sponsor.

The new law takes effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns.