Archive for November, 2017

Introducing H.R. 4369, the Protecting Benefits for Disabled Veterans Act of 2017

On November 9, 2017, Representative Maxine Waters (CA), introduced H.R. 4369, the Protecting Benefits for Disabled Veterans Act of 2017.  The bill would codify regulations on Individual Unemployability (IU) into federal law. Furthermore, H.R. 4369 would provide additional protections for IU and prohibit the VA from considering the age of the veteran or their eligibility to any retirement benefit, including Social Security, in making such determinations. The DAV supports this legislation in accordance with DAV Resolution No. 034.
Image result for rep maxine waters
In May 2017, the Administration’s budget proposal contained a proposal that would have eliminated eligibility for VA’s IU program for thousands of disabled veterans. If enacted, it would have terminated existing IU ratings for veterans when they reach the age of 62-the minimum retirement age for Social Security benefits–as well as cut off IU benefits for any veteran already in receipt of Social Security retirement benefits. In the face of staunch opposition from DAV and other VSOs, the Administration subsequently backed away from this measure; however, the threat remains that this proposal or something like it could resurface in the future.

As we testified to Congress earlier this year, DAV is vehemently opposed to limiting disability compensation benefits, including IU, due to a veteran’s age. Many disabled veterans may not have income replacement available-especially those who have been on IU for an extended period in advance of reaching retirement age. Cutting off IU eligibility for veterans who turn 62 would compel many disabled veterans to take Social Security benefits early which significantly reduces the value of the benefit. The disabled veterans affected could thus be “doubly” penalized because they cannot work and save for retirement as do many peers of their age.  Eliminating their eligibility for IU would be grossly unfair.

H.R. 4369 would place regulations for eligibility for IU directly into law and protect IU benefits from any ill-conceived cost-saving measures in the future. We are calling on all DAV members and supporters to contact their Representatives and urge them to co-sponsor and support H.R. 4369 to protect veterans and their families now and in the future, from these harmful proposals.

Thank you for standing with us and participating in the DAV Commander’s Action Network.

Click the link below to log in and send your message:
https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/tD6ZCTBCtq9ygq3CzzrTeQ

30 Nov, 2017  Posted by Beth   No Comments »
Read More

Bill introduced to increase dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) for surviving dependents

Image result for sen Jon Tester

On October 19, 2017, Senator Jon Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, introduced S. 1990, the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Improvement Act of 2017.

This bill would increase dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) for surviving dependents and would lower the threshold of eligibility to allow certain survivors to receive this benefit who currently do not meet the requirements. This measure would:

Increases DIC so that the base rate is equal to 55 percent of the rate of compensation paid to a totally disabled veteran, making it more equitable with rates provided to federal civilian employee survivors.

  • Ease the 10 year rule for eligibility and replace it with a graduated scale of benefits that begins after 5 years and increases by percentage until reaching the full amount at the 10 year mark. If a veteran is rated as totally disabled for five years and dies as a result of a non-service-connected cause, a survivor would be entitled to 50 percent of total DIC benefits. This scale continues until the 10-year threshold and the maximum DIC amount is awarded.
  • Reduce the age allowed for a surviving spouse to remarry and maintain their benefits from 57 to 55, consistent with other Federal survivor benefit programs.

If enacted, this bill would fulfill one of DAV’s legislative goals in accordance with Resolution No. 036 that was approved by our members during our most recent National Convention.  Please use the prepared e-mail or draft your own message to request that your Senators support this important legislation.

Thank you for all you do for ill and injured veterans and their families.

Click the link below to log in and send your message:
https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/UD8Mbud4y_B-anZ2TI0cAw

29 Nov, 2017  Posted by Beth   No Comments »
Read More

Thanks Rep Bost! Cost-of-Living Adjustment for Ill and Injured Veterans

On November 2, 2017, President Trump signed Public Law 115-75, which provides a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase of 2 percent, effective December 1, 2017, for veterans disability compensation and dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) for survivors and certain other benefits.  This increase matches the COLA provided to Social Security recipients.

This COLA  benefits injured and ill veterans, their families and survivors by helping to maintain the value of VA benefits against inflation.  Without annual COLAs, many disabled veterans, who sacrificed their own health and family life for the good of our nation, may not be able to maintain the quality of life they deserve.

We thank Representative Mike Bost (IL), Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs for introducing H.R. 1329-the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2017, and Congress for final passage of the bill on October 25, 2017.

Likewise, we appreciate your support for service-disabled veterans and your grassroots efforts in the DAV Commander’s Action Network, which helped get this critical legislation enacted.  Please share this information on all of your social media sites. Thank you for all you do for America’s veterans and their families.

27 Nov, 2017  Posted by Beth   No Comments »
Read More

Legal Services Access Improved!

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), together with the American Bar Association, The Veterans Consortium and National Law School Veterans Clinic Consortium, signed a Memorandum of Agreement aimed at improving Veterans’ access to free legal services.

Veterans often face stressful legal problems — such as eviction, foreclosure, child support, or drivers’ license revocations — that can affect their ability to gain or maintain employment and housing or focus on medical treatment. In VA’s annual Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups survey, legal assistance repeatedly tops the list of homeless Veterans’ unmet needs.

“We are encouraging VA Medical Centers and other VA facilities to engage with their local communities to establish legal clinics and Medical Legal Partnerships to address Veterans’ legal needs that threaten their health and well-being,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “By signing this agreement, we are documenting a shared commitment to better facilitate Veterans’ access to legal services.”

Currently, VA hosts at least 165 free legal clinics in its VA Medical Centers, Community Based Outpatient Clinics and Vet Centers across the country by partnering with external, legal-service providers, such as local bar associations, legal-aid organizations and law school clinics.

More information on VA’s coordination of legal services for Veterans at VA facilities may be found at https://www.va.gov/OGC/LegalServices.asp.

15 Nov, 2017  Posted by Beth   No Comments »
Read More

Please support H.R. 3558, the Improve Access to Care for Our Female Veterans Act

Representative Susan Brooks (IN) introduced H.R. 3558, the Improve Access to Care for Our Female Veterans Act.  This bill would improve the VA’s procedures for ensuring that environment of care inspections are completed and deficiencies are reported accurately and timely by clarifying and strengthening roles and responsibilities for inspections in VA medical facilities.

The bill seeks to ensure all areas in VA facilities adequately meet privacy and security standards.  Safety and privacy accommodations can be made through simple investments such as installation of privacy curtains or locks on doors.  These minor modifications help create an environment that allows all VA patients, but particularly women, to fully engage in their treatment and recovery without privacy concerns.  Lack of these reasonable accommodations may be particularly troubling for veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress or other disorders related to military sexual trauma.

In addition, the measure would require VA to collect and monitor access data from women veterans seeking care through the Veterans’ Choice Program to ensure they have access to timely care when sent to a community provider.

Please ask your Representative to support H.R. 3558 by sending the prepared letter or composing one on your own.

Click the link below to log in and send your message:
https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/ug5LET6jJjaMrLR9xIhclw

13 Nov, 2017  Posted by Beth   No Comments »
Read More