Veteran disability checks could stop if Government shutdown continuesAccording to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, United States military veterans could stop receiving their veteran disability checks if the partial government shutdown reaches into late October. How many people will be affected? According to reports, the shutdown could affect millions of veterans who are receiving disability checks.
The shutdown could also affect pension benefits which Shinseki says are paid to some 315,000 veterans and 202,000 surviving spouses and dependents. This is an estimated $6 billion in veteran disability and pension payments which could be stopped due to the government shutdown. Shinseki is set to testify Wednesday before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
What about veterans health care?
The Veterans Administration has announced that there are certain services provided by the Veterans Administration which are unlikely to be affected such as funding for medical care. This area of veteran care is less affected because its funds were allocated last year by Congress. This means all veterans who currently have access to medical care will continue to be allowed to visit clinics and Veteran Administration hospitals.
What about veteran disability benefits which have not been paid?
Although veteran disability checks to current recipients will not be affected for at least a month, as mentioned above, those who have been waiting for their veteran disability benefits to be processed by the Veterans Administration are not as lucky. Unfortunately, soldiers who are returning from deployment, who have been injured and who are unable to work may find that their veteran disability claim may take even longer to process. This is especially bad news for the thousands of claimants who have already been waiting months for Veteran Administration benefits.
How bad is the veteran disability processing problem?
According to USA Today, there are an estimated 725,469 veteran disability cases pending, 58 percent of them for more than 125 days. So what will be paid? According to The Department of Veterans Affairs, they will continue to process veterans' claims for pensions, compensation, education and vocational rehabilitation programs through at least October. At that point the money is likely to run out unless Congress is able to negotiate a deal.
Current Status of Shutdown Debate
Although we are nine days into the government partial shutdown, President Obama has refused to negotiate unless the Republicans allow Congress to re-open the government and raise the debt limit to end the threat of default. Republicans argue that the debt ceiling absolutely should not be raised until Congress does something to solve the problem of America living beyond its means. John Boehner argued there's a long history in Washington of using the debt limit to bring about policy changes and if not now then when?
What does the president say? He claims that the only way to immediately end the shutdown is for Republicans to allow a no-strings-attached spending bill up for a vote on the House floor. Unfortunately, Republicans argue that doesnt sound like much of a negotiation.