Military.com reports that “veterans with a 60 to 100-percent disability rating who are paid at the 100 percent rate because a service-connected disability makes them unable to work may see that benefit end under President Trump’s budget which would cut off the payments once the veteran reached the minimum age for Social Security.
Congressman Mark Takano, D-Hawaii, said, “If a veteran was provided this benefit because of the inability to maintain gainful employment, particularly at a young age, he or she would not have been able to pay for Social Security or put money into a 401K or other retirement savings account.”
Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. David Shulkin acknowledged that about 7,000 veterans over age 80 currently receive IU out of a total of about 225,000 veterans getting IU. Payments from IU can reach about $22,000 annually.
John Rowan, national president of Vietnam Veterans of America, said the IU cuts and the entire Trump budget proposal would “completely abandon many of the most severely disabled veterans of the Vietnam generation and could make thousands of elderly veterans homeless.”
“We’re extremely alarmed by this budget proposal because this is the opposite of what President Trump promised veterans,” Rowan said.
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President Trump’s telephone hotline for veteran complaints became operational last Thursday. The number — 855-948-2311 — is designed to “collect, process and respond to the complaints of individual veterans in a responsive, timely and accountable manner,” according to Department of Veterans Affairs officials.
VA Secretary David Shulkin has promised that by Aug. 15, the hotline will have continuous coverage from a live operator 24/7. “This is something the president had talked about,” he told reporters. “We’re going to be testing that system starting tomorrow and fine-tuning it over the next several months.”
During the presidential campaign last year, Trump touted the hotline as a way for veterans to have a direct line to the commander in chief and even suggested that “he would answer it himself” if the opportunity arose, according to MilitaryTimes.com.
Calls to the line will be kept confidential, but information will be shared with VA officials, and in some cases, veterans will be asked to give personal information for responses to specific problems.
The call center is named “The White House/VA Veterans’ Complaint Hotline” and is promised to be a portal through which veterans can directly report issues to the Oval Office without interference from VA leaders.
Department officials said they will use information from the hotline to “improve the delivery of care and benefit services to all veterans, including their families, caregivers, and survivors,” but offered no further specifics.
The cost of last week’s “soft launch” of the hotline is $190,000, which includes one-time computer and phone setup expenses. Most veterans would agree it’s a small amount to gain the Commander-in-Chief’s ear.