- C. Jenkins
Congress' Next Big Vets Issue: Fixing Disability & Retirement Pay
In 2022 Congress passed a landmark benefits expansion for veterans through the PACT Act.
Now, Veterans advocates are pushing lawmakers to tackle the next big Veterans issue — making sure all those Veterans actually get everything they are owed.
Disability and retirement pay for veterans throughout the country has been a long-standing issue. The current framework for providing veterans with financial support has been in place for quite some time and is ripe for review. By getting Congress to address this, Veterans will hopefully see changes in the coming years that will improve their ability to receive adequate and timely monetary support.
While the disability/retirement pay issue isn't necessarily new, past attempts to enact changes have not been successful. However Veterans groups are feeling more optimistic now following the recent passage of the PACT Act.
More via Military Times:
Since 2004, veterans who have a disability rating of at least 50% have received their full military retirement pay and disability benefits, a combined total that can amount to several thousand dollars each month. But veterans who have a disability rating of less than 50% are subject to dollar-for-dollar offsets. That can mean a loss of several hundred dollars a month for some individuals. Wounded Warrior officials estimate that as many as 50,000 medical retirees nationwide are hurt by the current policy. Those veterans were forced out of the service early by a significant injury and may have limited job options in the civilian business sector as a result. “For someone who was injured and really hasn’t had the ability to gain significant employment or financial income, that additional money is very significant for them and their family,” Ramos said. The Major Richard Star Act — named for an Army veteran who died in 2021 of cancer related to burn pit exposure in Iraq and Afghanistan — would allow combat-wounded veterans medically discharged before serving 20 years to receive both retirement and disability pay, without any offsets.
The hope is that Congress will pass legislation that will result in much-needed reform in the field of veterans' disability and retirement pay. If successful, eligible veterans may soon see improvements in the way they receive their financial support which could help them to better care for themselves and their families.
Veterans should stay tuned for further developments and potential changes in the near future.