VA Budget Request Rollout Decreases Some Benefits

VA Budget Request Rollout Decreases Some Benefits
FRA ADVP Brian Condon and FRA NVSO Chris Slawinski attended the annual Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) FY 2018 budget briefing. The budget request includes a 3.7 percent increase over FY 2017. The White House proposed $186.5 billion budget for VA operations next year:

  • Provides $13.2 billion for medical care outside the VA, through the FRA-supported VA Choice program (13 percent increase).
  • Increases mental health care by $473 million; and
  • Delivers $505 million for gender-specific health care services for women veterans (7 percent increase).

The budget request also trims some VA benefits. Veterans receiving benefit checks from the VA would have their annual cost-of-living-adjustment reduced or “rounded down” to the next dollar, which was VA policy from the late 1990s until 2013. The VA has estimated it would save $20 million in FY 2018 and cost individual veterans no more than $12 per year.

The proposed budget eliminates the Individual Unemployability benefit payments to retirement-age veterans, a move expected to save $3.2 billion next year alone and $41 billion over 10 years. Under current policies, the Individual Unemployability program allows the VA to award payouts at the 100-percent disabled rate to veterans who cannot find work, due to service-connected injuries. Even if they are not deemed 100-percent disabled. The number of program recipients has tripled since 2000, reaching almost 339,000 in FY 2016. ┬áThe Administration has proposed stopping those payouts once veterans are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. The argument is that the practice amounts to “the duplication of benefits.” It would impact more than 225,000 veterans currently receiving this benefit.┬áMembers are urged to use the FRA Action Center on our website and ask their legislators to oppose the cuts to veteran benefits.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of FRA.

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