Veterans Department Gets A Budget Boost, but Disabled Vets Won’t See It
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Veterans Department Gets A Budget Boost, but Disabled Vets Won’t See It

Unemployment Payments, Some as High as $22,000 a Year, Are To Be Cut

The proposed $186.5 billion budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the few agencies that would grow under Trump with a proposed increase of $4.4 billion, or about 6%, but individual veterans could suffer.

The proposed budget would have changed eligibility rules for the department’s Individual Unemployability program which pays disabled veterans who can’t find work because they were injured while serving our country.

The cuts, which Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin later backed away from, could reduce some disabled veterans’ pay by up to $22,000 a year. As many as 210,000 veterans, at least 7,000 of them older than 80, would be affected.

Action Box/What You Can Do About It

Write David Shulkin, the VA secretary, at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave., Washington, DC 20420 to tell him your thoughts about the Individual Unemployability program and cost-of-living adjustments for our nation’s veterans.

The American Legion can be reached at 317-630-1200.

Shulkin has talked about ending payments from that program for disabled veterans once they became eligible for Social Security. They would still qualify for regular disability pay from the military.

Shulkin told a House panel that paying unemployment to veterans “above the age of 80 … isn’t what makes sense to the average American.”

Disabled veterans in the Individual Unemployability program haven’t been able to pay as much into the Social Security system and may not have much in retirement savings.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), an Iraq war veteran, said the cuts could “push thousands of vets into poverty, despair and even homelessness.”

Homelessness could also increase because of proposed cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The $7 billion in cuts to the $48 billion budget includes cutting almost $1 billion from Section 8 which helps about 2.2 million low-income families afford housing.

Trump also wants to take the spare change out of veterans’ pockets by rounding down cost-of-living adjustments for veterans.

The savings in benefit cuts to veterans would help pay for expanding Veterans Choice, private medical care for veterans that was supposed to be a temporary fix to problems with getting care at the VA.

In the final weeks of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln called on our nation to care for veterans and their survivors, “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and orphan.”

Trump, the leader of what the party of Lincoln has become, has extolled the “beautiful statues and monuments” honoring those who fought to keep slavery. He fails to honor our nation’s living veterans.

Featured Photo: Trump signs the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 at the American Legion convention in Reno, Nev. (American Legion video).

 

August 28, 2017