Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 31, 2013

Veterans fight changes to disability payments

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — “We all volunteered to serve, so we all volunteered to sacrifice,” he said. “I don’t believe that you should ever ask those who have already volunteered to sacrifice to then sacrifice again.”

That said, Archer indicated he would be willing to “chip in” if he believes that everyone is required to give as well.

He said he’s more worried about the veterans he’s trying to help find a place to sleep. About a third of his clients rely on VA pension payments averaging just over $1,000 a month. He said their VA pension allows them to pay rent, heat their home and buy groceries, but that’s about it.

“This policy, if it ever went into effect, would actually place those already in poverty in even more poverty,” Archer said.

The changes that would occur by using the slower inflation calculation seem modest at first. For a veteran with no dependents who has a 60 percent disability rating, the use of chained CPI this year would have lowered the veteran’s monthly payments by $3 a month. Instead of getting $1,026 a month, the veteran would have received $1,023.

Raymond Kelly, legislative director for Veterans of Foreign Wars, acknowledged that veterans would see little change in their income during the first few years of the change. But even a $36 hit over the course of a year is “huge” for many of the disabled veterans living on the edge, he said.

The amount lost over time becomes more substantial as the years go by. Sanders said that a veteran with a 100 percent disability rating who begins getting payments at age 30 would see their annual payments trimmed by more than $2,300 a year when they turn 55.

Big Red Number 0.3 Percentage change monthly disability and pension payments would shrink this year under new formula, from a 1.7 percent increase to 1.4 percent increase

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