House Republican Leaders Announce Disability, Retirement Benefit Proposal
House Republican leaders on Thursday announced a $22 billion, 10-year plan that would allow some veterans to receive full retirement and disability benefits, the Washington Post reports (Eilperin, Washington Post, 10/17). Currently, veterans with disabilities receive military retirement benefits that are reduced by the amount they receive in disability payments (California Healthline, 9/24). About 500,000 veterans are affected by the current law. Under the new proposal, which will be attached to the defense authorization bill, full benefits for about 250,000 veterans whose disabilities are rated 50% or higher would be restored gradually over the next decade. Veterans with disabilities would receive different payments based on the severity of their conditions (Washington Post, 10/17). VA disability rates are currently set at levels that range from $633 per month, tax exempt, for veterans with a 50% disability, to $2,193 per month for veterans with complete disabilities. Under the proposal, beginning Jan. 1, 2004, veterans with 50% disability would receive an additional $100 per month for lot retirement pay, while veterans who are completely disabled would receive an additional $750 per month. Purple Heart veterans and veterans with combat-related disabilities would receive full benefits, the AP/Los Angeles Times reports (AP/Los Angeles Times, 10/17). The proposal would also establish a bipartisan commission to examine the current system to ensure veterans are appropriately compensated (Washington Post, 10/17). The proposal is expected to pass Congress "within days," according to the AP/Las Vegas Sun. However, veterans groups and congressional Democrats have not publicly declared support for the package (Espo, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 10/17). House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said the measure could be attached to another bill if the defense authorization bill stalls for any reason (AP/Los Angeles Times, 10/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.