Benefit Checks for Veterans May Stop Nov 1
5.1 million veterans will not receive a compensation check Nov. 1 if the government shutdown continues.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki told the House Committee on Veterans Affairs during a hearing Wednesday that as many as 433,000 fully disabled veterans would be included among those who stop receiving federal aid if the partial shutdown of the federal government isn’t resolved before next month. Some 360,000 surviving spouses and children would also be impacted, he said, along with more than 500,000 vets and their spouses enrolled in college.
During the hearing, Shinseki did not indicate whether those impacted would receive retroactive reimbursement.
Shinseki also mentioned that efforts to eliminate a massive backlog in applications for VA benefits had stalled, and that the backlog is increasing as more service member return from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“They are enrolling in VA care at higher rates than previous generations of veterans,” Shinseki said. “They, along with the veterans of every preceding generation, will be harmed if the shutdown continues.”
VA medical centers have remained open during the shutdown because they receive funding a year in advance, but access to 56 regional offices was suspended Tuesday due to lack of funds. Shinseki said 7,800 VA employees have been placed on furlough, including many veterans. He said he expects that number to grow as the shutdown continues.
At the hearing, Shinseki urged Congress to pass a full funding bill for his agency rather than piecemeal bills.
“What’s best for all veterans is a full budget,” he said.