By: Susan Paczak
The budget proposed by the President increases the VA’s budget by 6%, but it also proposes to cut unemployability benefits for many veterans. Veterans rated at least 60% and unable to work because of their service‑connected disabilities can receive a rating of 100%. These are called Unemployability Benefits. Under this proposed budget, at age 62 the veteran would no longer be rated at 100% unemployable, they would go back to the rating they had before they were found unemployable. This means their benefits would be reduced by $1,000 or more per month. This cut would affect some of the most severely disabled elderly veterans, many of whom are in their 80s. This would plunge many veterans into poverty and possibly homelessness. For many disabilities, it is hard or even impossible to get 100% rating, but that disability rating is what makes the veteran unemployable. Additionally, for veterans with ratings for more than one disability, the formula the VA uses to combine these ratings makes it hard to get 100%, even if the separate ratings would add up to 100%. That is why unemployability benefits are so important.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Shulkin, has defended these changes saying these veterans are still entitled to Social Security Retirement Benefits at age 62. However, at age 62, the veteran’s Social Security Retirement is a reduced retirement amount. Additionally, many veterans are not eligible for Social Security Retirement or will only receive a small amount because their service‑connected disabilities prevented them from working or forced them into part‑time or low-paying jobs.
Secretary Shulkin also said these cuts were needed to fund an increase in the VA Choice Progam. This means that the VA would take money from some veterans to pay for medical care for other veterans. This proposal does not live up to the VA’s motto, “To care for him who has borne the battle, his widow and orphan.” This motto was taken from President Lincoln’s second inaugural speech. President Lincoln would certainly not be in favor of these cuts to severely disabled veterans.
This budget is still just a proposed budget. This means that if enough pressure is put on the President and Congress, this proposal can be removed from the budget. All of the major veterans service organizations, such as DAV. American Legion, AMVETS, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Paralyzed Veterans Association, and the VFW have come out in opposition to this proposal.
Please contact the White House, your Senators, and Representatives to tell them you oppose this proposal
Even if you do not receive unemployability benefits, please stand with your brother and sister veterans to oppose this cut in benefits.
Below are instructions for contacting the White House and your Senators and Representatives.
The White House :
To call: 202-456-6213
For email go to: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC 2050
You can find your U.S. Representative at www.house.gov. On the main page of this site, at the top right, you will see FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE. Enter your zipcode and it will display your Representative and their contact information.
You can find your Senator at www.senate.gov. On the main page of this site, at the top left, there is a drop down menu FIND YOUR SENATORS. Select your state and it will display your Senators and their contact information.