Sunday, May 21, 2006

Veterans benefits

The last sentence is telling in that it uses the criteria "other
veterans" as if we're not full citizens. Veterans benefits are granted
to veterans who have demonstrated to be damaged as a result of military
service. It is the government's obligation to make disabled veterans
whole again. SSDI is an insurance policy covering those who are unable
to work and paid into the system over the years and meet the criteria
are qualified to receive benefits. These are two unrelated issues and
those who are trying to comingle them are guilty of defrauding America's
veterans and working class. How many veterans didn't come out of the
working class?
Furthermore, the cost of living varies from state to state. A Veteran
living in Mississippi, generally speaking, has a lower cost of living
than a Veteran living in New Jersey.
The Veteran community cannot sit back and be steamrollered by the
wealthy elites who haven't sacrificed anything for their country but
rather lived off trust accounts and political connections.

WHO GET VA COMPENSATION AND SSDI BENEFITS

Pressured by Ret. Army Lt. Gen. Terry Scott, the Veterans' Disability
Benefits Commission voted 11-2 on Friday (05-19-06) to study veterans
who get VA compensation and SSDI benefits.

Background here with all back links to previous information...
http://www.vawatchdog.org/old%20newsflashes%20MAY%2006/newsflash05-19-2006-3.htm

A number of VSOs gave testimony encouraging the Commission NOT to do
this study.

You can find the VFW's testimony at the above hyperlink.

I will have more information on this shortly...including thoughts from a
veteran in attendance.

We should hear more from the VSOs by Monday. Will they file suit (as
promised) to stop this study?

Find below testimony from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) given at
the hearing.

CBO testimony here...
http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=7209&sequence=0
<http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=7209&sequence=0>

CBO testimony below:

---------------

CBO

Statement of
Allison Percy
Principal Analyst

Analyzing the Federal Benefits
Available to Disabled Veterans

before the
Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission

May 19, 2006

This document is embargoed until it is delivered at 12:45 p.m. (EDT) on
Friday, May 19, 2006. The contents may not be published, transmitted, or
otherwise communicated by any print, broadcast, or electronic media
before that time.

Thank you for asking the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to speak
before the Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission on the issue of
analyzing the federal benefits available to disabled veterans.

The charter of the commission is broad, stating that it shall carry out
a study of the benefits under the laws of the United States that are
provided to compensate and assist veterans and their survivors for
disabilities and deaths attributable to military service." The law
establishing the commission specifically requests a comprehensive
evaluation and assessment" of those benefits, including the
appropriateness of the type and level of benefits, as well as the
standards for determining whether a disability or death of a veteran
should be compensated.

The commission's list of approved research topics begins with several
questions about how well current benefits compensate disabled veterans
for lost earnings capacity and an impaired quality of life. Thus, the
commission is seeking to determine the role that federal benefits play
in sustaining disabled veterans' standard of living.

Federal support for disabled veterans' standard of living will vary
because some veterans are eligible for different benefits both from the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and from other federal sources. To
fully assess the impact of federal benefits, the commission would need
to know about all of the federal programs to which veterans can turn for
assistance and would need to quantify the extent to which each of those
programs provides income and in-kind services for disabled veterans.
Depending on a variety of circumstances, a veteran with a disability
attributable to military service might receive disability retirement or
a severance payment from the Department of Defense; disability
compensation and medical services from VA; disability insurance payments
or Supplemental Security Income from the Social Security Administration;
and education loans, job training, adaptive technology, small business
support, and other benefits from a variety of federal programs.
Analyzing the effects of those benefits on a standard of living is
complex because the service-connected disabilities that trigger the
receipt of VA benefits may or may not reflect the same underlying
medical conditions that trigger veterans' benefits under other federal
programs.

In considering the issue of multiple benefits, Social Security
Disability Insurance (SSDI) stands out in particular because it is the
largest federal program that, like VA disability compensation, is
designed to replace earnings that are lost because of a disability.
However, the eligibility criteria for the two programs are different,
and there is limited information currently available on the degree to
which veterans receiving VA disability compensation are also receiving
SSDI payments and whether those payments are tied to the same
service-connected disabilities or to disabilities unrelated to military
service.

Under current law, a veteran may be eligible for both programs without
any offsets. Collecting new information about the role that each program
plays in supporting the standard of living of disabled veterans would
not necessarily lead to a conclusion that current law should be changed.
It could be that only the most seriously disabled veterans qualify for
both programs and that their loss of income and quality of life is
greater than that of veterans who receive only VA disability
compensation. In that case, the two programs could be seen as
complementary with the common goal of providing greater compensation to
the most seriously disabled veterans. Yet if VA compensation alone is
inadequate to restore the standard of living of veterans whose only
disabilities derive from their military service, it seems inefficient
for those veterans to have to undertake two separate application
processes in order to qualify for the full amount of federal benefits to
which they are entitled. Alternatively, veterans who receive both types
of compensation might not differ in any measurable way from veterans who
receive only VA compensation. In that case, issues of fairness might
arise, as veterans in similar circumstances would be receiving different
amounts of total compensation for their service-connected disabilities.
The commission can illuminate the issue for the Congress only by
learning more about whether veterans are receiving both types of
compensation and what types of disabilities those veterans have.

As a preliminary analysis conducted by the Center for Naval Analyses
(CNA) has shown, federal data sources such as the Current Population
Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation provide
relatively little information on the issue beyond a simple count of how
many veterans receive both types of payments.(1)
<http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=7209&sequence=0#F1> That analysis
indicates that about 15 percent of veterans who are receiving VA
disability compensation also receive payments from SSDI. However, those
data do not describe the amount of income the veterans receive from each
source; the extent to which SSDI payments are received by veterans with
service-connected disabilities rated at 100 percent or by those with
lower-rated service-connected disabilities who also have additional
disabilities unrelated to their military service; or the likelihood that
veterans will receive both types of payments depending on the type of
disability. The research that the commission is undertaking now has the
potential to provide far better information about the role that SSDI
plays in providing income support for some disabled veterans.

CBO is a legislative support agency whose mission is to provide the
Congress with timely, objective, nonpartisan analyses of the budget and
the economy and to furnish the information and cost estimates required
for the Congressional budget process. The agency takes as a premise that
the clearest view of any policy question can best be found by seeking
accurate and unbiased data sources and by examining those data in an
objective manner. Consequently, CBO sees only advantages to learning
more about the degree to which the totality of federal benefits
(including SSDI payments) enables veterans with service-connected
disabilities to have a standard of living comparable to that of other
veterans.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. <http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=7209&sequence=0#t1> CNA
Corporation, "Disabled Veterans Receiving SSDI" (prepared for the
Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission, March 29, 2006).

---------------

Larry Scott

(go back to VA Watchdog dot Org Home Page) <http://www.vawatchdog.org>

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