Our Most Vulnerable Veterans Need Your Voice

Yesterday, AMVETS shared its deep concerns about the President’s proposed budget which calls for rounding down Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) for veterans, and cutting Individual Unemployability (IU) disability benefits for seriously disabled service-connected veterans who are 65 and older.

Cutting IU disability benefits would “save” the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) $3.2 billion in the first year alone. Stealing rightfully earned benefits to fund other parts of VA, including the challenged Choice program, is disgraceful.
VA Secretary David Shulkin disagrees and yesterday defended the cuts, “There are always hard decisions that have to be made. Sometimes that means you have to adjust current programs to support the growth of other benefits. That’s what we’re seeing here.”

Hard decision, or not, our government should never put the basic income of our most vulnerable group of senior citizens on the table; thus putting them at greater risk of homelessness, suicide, and desperation. It is a cruel proposal.

If these veterans have paid into Social Security at all, they will lose their IU benefits, regardless of how small the Social Security benefit is. The VA Secretary further defends this by saying, “I think people can understand paying veterans who are above age 80 unemployment benefits isn’t was makes sense to the average American.”

That is a flawed form of reasoning. They qualify for IU due to unemployability as a result of being wounded, injured or made ill by their service in the military. IU benefits can meet basic needs, but do not allow for a veteran to sustain savings or grow a nest egg. These veterans are not taking advantage of the system – and they have earned the disability compensation benefit for life.

Today, we are asking you to not be silent on this issue, and to send the prefilled letter to your Members of Congress – or you can delete and write exactly what is on your mind. On this Memorial Day weekend, we honor our fallen – and will fight to ensure that the promises made to those they served beside are kept.