Block the CBO Option 11- Eliminate both Retirement Pay and VA Disability for Disabled Vets

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Block the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) Report December 8, 2016 - Options For Reducing The Deficit: 2017 to 2026. Option 11 Plan to Eliminate Concurrent Receipt of Retirement Pay and Disability Compensation for Disabled Veterans

Once again, the heroes of our country are being targeted to fix the Congressional budget. As Option 11 specifically targets Veterans who have either complete 20 years of service to their country or have had their careers cut short due to a service connected condition or injury. This includes Veterans with medical conditions or injuries incurred or that worsened during active-duty military service that may be eligible for disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

In 2003, the necessity to provide military retirees eligible for disability compensation, both their full retirement annuity and their disability compensation was apparent, as it was passed. Veterans with less than a 50% disability rating results in a reduction in the retirement annuity, which is typically referred to as the VA offset. The amount of retirement pay received is deducted from the amount of VA Disability Compensation. For those who have a VA disability of 50% or higher are eligible to receive both, with a tax on the retirement pay.

To cut the Veterans ability to receive the concurrent pay raises the following argument against the Option 11 plan; the DoD’s retirement system and VA’s disability program compensate for different characteristics of military service: rewarding longevity in the former case and remunerating for pain and suffering in the latter. In addition, if fewer retirees applied for VA disability compensation because concurrent receipt was no longer available, as the claim process is difficult enough as is. Veterans might bypass other much needed VA services such as health care or vocational training. Moreover, most retirees would find the loss of income a financial hardship. This could only add to the Veteran homelessness, suicide, condition related deaths and substance abuse rates, creating greater issues in the Veteran populous. Even the Social Security Office considers those who are 50 years of age or older as unable to be retrained for vocational rehabilitation, so this would negatively impact not only your Veterans younger than 50, but be devastating to those above the age of 50.

Additionally, the disabling VA conditions that are seen in the younger Veterans are those normally found in your older average civilian non service member, due to the nature of the military physical requirements, which will be further compounded as the Veteran ages.

Currently, even though there have been some strides made to improve the VA care and services for Veterans, it still is lacking in many areas. Just getting a Veteran an initial provider can be a challenge, much less treatment. Even with the Veterans’ Choice program in play, the Veterans must be referred by a provider to utilize the program. Also, the VA claim process itself is still a challenge and in light of the recent scandal in 2015 where it was discovered that 350,000 Veteran claims were shredded to clear the backlog of claims. The VA employees received bonuses for clearing the backlog and were not required to repay the bonuses. Passing Option 11 would be an even more blatant slap in the face to Veterans.

As stated above, retirement pay is a method of providing the Veteran as in the civilian sector a Reward and something to help with the cost of living after they are no longer able to work in their chosen field do to retirement.

VA disability pay is to compensate for disabling conditions in which the Veteran health medical or mental was compromised, that would impact their quality of life, ability to be retrained for new skill sets, acquired physical and/or mental limitations and their employability.

Keep in mind that with the changes in the new retirement plans, Service members are paying into a retirement plan. So, you would be eliminating their VA disability claim all together regardless, even though they paid into the system.

This is not a way to treat our heroes.

In short, it is punishing our Veterans for serving our country and doing so to the point of retirement; however that retirement is achieved. We should not attempt to balance the country’s books, by unfairly penalizing those who put their lives on the line to defend it.

In addition, this is a form of discrimination against Disabled Veterans.

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