New Veteran Bill Would Increase Pension Benefits for Some Couples

The Honoring All Veterans Act of 2011 – introduced yesterday by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) –seeks to improve health care, education, employment, and housing for veterans.  “Our military men and women have kept their promises to our country, and now we must keep faith with them, not only in words but in deeds,” said Blumenthal.

The Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit Rates for 2011:
  • Up to $1,644 per month for a single veteran
  • Up to $1,949 per month for a married veteran or a veteran with one dependent
  • Up to $1,057 per month for an un-remarried widowed surviving spouse
For some couples, aid and attendance benefits may increase.  The Bill passed the House May 23rd and will need to pass the Senate next.   The legislation seems to be on the fast track to becoming law.  GovTrack reports, “the vote was held under a suspension of the rules to cut debate short and pass the bill, needing a two-thirds majority . . . [usually reserved] . . . for non-controversial legislation. The totals were 380 Ayes, 0 Nays.”
  • The aid and attendance benefit would be increased for disabled veterans who are married to one another.
     
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs would gain a new source of key medical personnel through the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU). 
    • The Veterans Administration would seek to remedy substance abuse by using data from state prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP).
      • This provision may be criticized by privacy groups. According to DeaDiversion, the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws (NAMSDL), a PDMP is a statewide electronic database which collects designated data on substances dispensed in the state.”
    • An Independent Board would review DOD/VA transition problems including benefits.
    “Our nation must keep faith with men and women who serve and sacrifice for our freedom. Unfortunately and unconscionably, America is still failing them and their families by tolerating unemployment, homelessness and inadequate health care,” said Blumenthal.

    “This legislation comes from listening to and working with veterans and their families. While the Honoring All Veterans Act addresses many critical needs, it is only an opening salvo in a sustained, unceasing campaign to ensure that no veteran is left behind. It is a down payment on a larger debt,” said Blumenthal, according to politicalnews.me. “Our military men and women have kept their promises to our country, and now we must keep faith with them, not only in words but in deeds.”

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