DAV Magazine — March/April 2018
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Protecting what veterans HAVE EARNED
Mary Dever

New legislation proposes to restrict offset funding for new veterans benefits

DAV leaders in Washington are urging members to stay vigilant in the face of what they believe may be a wave of upcoming proposals aimed at diminishing or outright eliminating veterans benefits. Legislation introduced in the House—the Protecting Benefits for Disabled Veterans Act of 2017—could help alleviate the problem by forcing Congress to find other ways to pay for veterans benefits.

“Last spring, we saw a proposal that would outright eliminate eligibility for Individual Unemployability for veterans when they turn 62,” said Washington Headquarters Executive Director Garry Augustine. “With a concerted effort, we were able to cut that one off at the pass, but we need to be looking out for similar plans to cut programs or pay for new initiatives by eroding existing benefits.”

In the face of staunch opposition from DAV and other veterans service organizations, the administration subsequently backed away from discussing termination of Individual Unemployability benefits from senior veterans. However, the threat remains that this proposal or something like it could resurface in the future.

If passed, the proposed legislation would codify current regulations underlying Individual Unemployability determinations, making it more difficult for lawmakers to cut or eliminate this benefit.

“Whenever a bill is introduced in Congress, the cost of implementation has to be considered,” said Augustine. “According to our constitution and bylaws, we will not support legislation that would take from one group of veterans to pay for another.”

Current congressional budget rules require that any legislation containing new programs or expanded benefits that would increase federal spending must be offset by an equal amount of spending reductions or new revenues. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the money has to come from within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“We reject any proposal that requires one group of veterans to pay for any new or expanded benefits for another group of veterans,” said National Legislative Director Joy Ilem. “All Americans have benefited from the sacrifice of veterans, and all Americans should equally pay for benefits that have been earned from their service.”

DAV Resolution 023 notes that veterans benefits are part of a covenant between our nation and its defenders. As an organization of wartime service disabled veterans, and in accordance with this resolution, DAV opposes reduction, taxation or elimination of benefits that have been approved by Congress and supported by the American people.

“What they are doing when they make these proposals is essentially asking veterans to pay for their fellow veterans benefits,” said Augustine. “It’s an insult to our nation’s heroes, and we need to be prepared to ensure Congress and the administration find funding for veterans from other avenues.”