Friday, August 30, 2013

Possible Expansion of VA Benefits

Jim Fausone
Veteran Disability Attorney

New benefits may be in the pipeline for veterans.  The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has voted to add numerous initiatives to the “omnibus” bill, S 944.  The Committee voted to expand programs aimed at helping more veterans find work, helping more injured vets get reproductive health services, and to pay caregivers of seriously wounded veterans who left service before 9/11 a monthly stipend plus expenses.

How the legislature will pay for these initiatives, which are estimated at $12 billion over the next 5 years, has not yet been determined. 

Other initiatives added to the omnibus bill include: requiring public colleges to charge veterans on the GI Bill lower in-state tuition rates; requiring additional quarterly public reporting by the VA on disability claims processing; greater access to VA disability compensation for victims of sexual assault; and increasing veterans’ access to alternative medicine, chiropractic care, and other new care approaches.  Also included is a proposal to offer new incentives to employers who hire veterans.

Of course, there is some opposition to these measures.  Rep Richard Burr (N.C.), a member of the committee, opposed the provisions that are not paid for.  The Committee Chairman responded by promising to do his “best to find funding” for these programs.

However, all were in agreement on one initiative - granting “veteran” status to more than 200,000 Reserve and Guard retirees.  This includes those who served 20 years or more but less than 180 days were on active duty.  This measure has no cost because these veterans aren’t seeking additional VA benefits.  They simply wish to be able to answer “yes” when asked if they are veterans or to be able to stand and be recognized at a gathering of veterans.  This is a small but meaningful token to show appreciation to those who served this country.

These initiatives will now be added to the “omnibus” bill and forwarded to the full senate for additional debate and amendments before passage.

If you have questions about veteran benefits or potential changes in the law, contact Legal Help For Veterans, a veteran law practice group of Fausone Bohn, LLP, at 800-693-4800 or online at 

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