By Debbie Gregory.
It’s good to know that Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has announced that he wants to avoid any policy changes that will hurt the most vulnerable veterans, those who are part of the Individual Unemployability (IU) program.
“The budget is a process, and it became clear this (plan) would hurt some veterans,” he said. “I’m really concerned about that … I’m not going to support policies that hurt veterans.”
President Donald Trump’s $186.5 billion VA budget for fiscal 2018 has provisions that would dramatically change eligibility rules for the IU program, affecting some 210,000 veterans over the age of 60, at least 7,000 of whom are over 80.
Under current rules, the IU program awards payouts at the 100 percent disabled rate to veterans who cannot find work due to service-connected injuries, even if their actual rating decision is less than that. The change would make them ineligible once they reach Social Security’s retirement age
Although the move would save $3.2 billion just in its first year, the cost to the veterans currently qualified for UI would be enormous. IU payouts can total almost $20,000 a year.
American Legion officials praised the administration “for coming to their senses and committing to protect the Individual Unemployability program that provides for our most vulnerable veterans and their families.”
Shulkin is still committed to looking for ways to be more efficient with taxpayer funds, but not at the expense of veterans’ financial health.
We at Military Connection applaud these actions! Our veterans deserve all of the benefits they receive.