On November 8, 2019, Representative Maxine Waters (CA) introduced H.R. 5028, the Protecting Benefits for Disabled Veterans Act. The bill would codify regulations on Individual Unemployability (IU) into federal law.
When a veteran’s disability is rated less than a total 100 percent evaluation, but he or she is unable to obtain or maintain substantial gainful employment, VA regulations allow the veteran to apply for Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (IU). It is based on the severity of the individual veteran’s unique disability picture and its impact on the veteran’s ability to obtain and maintain substantial gainful employment. Generally, the veteran must have a single disability rated at 60 percent or a combined evaluation of 70 percent to be eligible for IU.
In recent years, reducing or limiting IU has been the focus of many Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reports and Government Accounting Office (GAO) reports as a proposed deficit reducing measure. The Administration’s proposed 2018 budget also contained a proposal to terminate IU ratings for veterans at age of 62 and cut off IU benefits for any veteran already in receipt of Social Security retirement benefits. In December 2018, it was suggested to terminate and cutoff IU benefits at the age of 65.
H.R. 5028 would provide additional protections for IU and prohibit the VA from considering the age of the veteran or their eligibility to any retirement benefit, including Social Security, in making such determinations. This bill would protect IU benefits from any ill-conceived cost-saving measures in the future.
DAV strongly supports H.R. 5028, as it would protect IU for approximately 200,000 veterans currently receiving it, over the age of 65. This would ensure the availability of IU for all veterans regardless of age or receipt of any other earned federal benefits. Consistent with DAV Resolution No. 004, DAV supports the protection of IU as it is not a retirement or pension program and is neither similar nor related to Social Security Retirement benefits; it is a disability compensation benefit.
We are calling on all DAV members and supporters to contact their Representatives and urge them to co-sponsor and support H.R. 5028 to protect veterans and their families now and in the future from these harmful proposals. Thank you for all you do for America’s veterans and their families.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Walmart cut the ribbon in Asheboro, North Carolina, Dec. 10, for a new VA-led Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations (ATLAS) services pilot location.
The public-private affiliation provides convenient health care to Veterans in their communities.
“This type of collaboration is the way of the future,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Veterans need the expansion of choice, and this partnership is vital to affording them convenient access to VA health care services where they live.”
Walmart has donated equipment and space at five sites as part of a pilot initiative allowing Veterans to meet with a VA provider in a private room via video technology. VA telehealth clinical services vary by location and may include: primary care, nutrition, mental health and social work
This new option makes VA care easier to access and eases the burden of long travel times to appointments.
On April 10, 2019, Representative Bruce Westerman (AR), introduced H.R. 2200, the Keeping Our Promises Act. This legislation would add multiple diseases to the presumptive disease list for Agent Orange exposure.
In the Veterans and Agent Orange update in 2016, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) committee concluded there was compelling evidence for adding bladder cancer and hypothyroid conditions to the presumptive disease list. Further, the study clarified that Vietnam veterans with “Parkinson-like symptoms,” but without a formal diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, should be considered under the presumption of Parkinson’s disease. In the Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 11, released in November 2018, the NAM concluded that there is sufficient evidence of an association between Agent Orange and the development of hypertension. The report elevated hypertension from suggestive evidence to sufficient evidence of a link.
The VA has not taken any action on adding these four diseases. We are concerned by the recent release of internal documents that indicate Administration officials challenged the previous Secretary’s authority to add these four diseases and may have even impeded action. Even more troubling is the possibility that the Administration is outweighing the cost of adding these diseases over those veterans in need of VA benefits and health care. Three of these pending presumptive diseases have been held up for more than three years, leaving affected veterans, family members and survivors waiting.
DAV led a coalition of 20 military and veterans service organizations to bring this issue to the forefront. Earlier this month we called on Secretary Wilkie directly, to add these four diseases. To date, we have not had any response from the VA.
Because the VA and the Administration are not taking action, we must turn to Congress. H.R. 2200 will add bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, “Parkinson’s-like symptoms”, and hypertension to the presumptive disease list for Agent Orange exposure. All four of these diseases have been scientifically associated with Agent Orange and are recommended for inclusion by the National Academy of Medicine.
DAV strongly supports H.R. 2200 as it is aligned with DAV Resolution No. 174, which calls for the addition of these presumptive diseases. Please use the prepared letter or draft your own to urge your Representatives to support and cosponsor H.R. 2200. Stand with us and support the addition of these diseases as presumptive to Agent Orange. Thank you for your continued support of the DAV Commander’s Action Network.
Representative Joe Cunningham (SC) has introduced H.R. 2982, Women Veterans Health Care Accountability Act, to identify and remedy barriers women veterans face when trying to access VA health care. The legislation would require the VA Secretary to survey women veterans-both those who use VA health care and those who do not-to understand their reasons for not using VA services. The survey will question women veterans about their perceptions of safety in VA facilities, access to services, and stigmas they may express about seeking treatment for sensitive issues such as military sexual trauma, mental health or substance abuse disorders. The legislation would then require VA to identify strategies for addressing any issues identified by the survey.
According to VA, only 22% of women veterans compared with 28% of male veterans use VA health care. VA has made many improvements in the way it manages the care of women using the system, and has launched campaigns to address veteran to veteran harassment, awareness about women veterans’ eligibility for VA benefits and services, and stigma for mental health seeking, yet these problems persist. Findings from a detailed survey may assist the VA in developing tactics to tackle some of the ongoing concerns and barriers women veterans face when accessing VA health care.
Please contact your Representative in Congress to support H.R. 2982 using the prepared letter or compose your own.
Thank you for your support of the Commander’s Action Network.
On July 30, 2019, Representative Raul Ruiz (CA), introduced H.R. 4137-the Jennifer Kepner Healthcare for Open Air Burn Pit Exposure Act.
If a veteran is not eligible for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care based on service-connected disabilities, current statutes allow veterans treatment for diseases related to specific toxic exposures. However, exposure to burn pits is not one of the accepted toxic exposures. H.R. 4137 would amend that statute to allow veterans who served at locations with an open air burn pit on or after January 1, 1990, to be eligible for VA medical care.
DAV strongly supports H.R. 4137, as it will provide veterans exposed to burn pits who have no other means of VA health care eligibility, with access to life-saving medical treatment. This legislation is in accord with DAV Resolution No. 049.
Please use the prepared electronic letter or draft your own to urge your Representative to support and cosponsor H.R. 4137. As always, we appreciate your support for DAV and your grassroots activism in participating in DAV CAN. Thank you for all you do for America’s veterans and their families.
SUBJECT: New Membership Dues Rates
As you are likely aware, during DAV’s 98th National Convention in Orlando, Florida, our membership approved a change to our National Bylaws which will now call for a flat rate of $300.00 for all new members, regardless of age, with membership remaining free for those 80 years of age or older. This change will go into effect January 1, 2020. Anyone who joins DAV before January 1, 2020, pays the current appropriate rate based on age. Applications received at National Headquarters, a National Service Office, or postmarked on or before December 31, 2019, will be accepted at the current rates. All applications will be updated to reflect this change, and old paper applications should be discarded after December 31, 2019. If you have any questions please contact the Membership Department at 888-236-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s bipartisan bill to protect veterans’ disability payments recently passed the U.S. Senate and now heads to the President’s desk for signature. As Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tester introduced the Honoring American Veterans in Extreme Need (HAVEN) Act to ensure veterans experiencing economic hardship do not have their earned disability benefits penalized.
“Under current bankruptcy law, a civilian disabled by a car wreck is treated better than a veteran disabled because their convoy ran over an improvised explosive device,” Tester said. “For the folks who sacrificed life and limb protecting our country, this disparity is unacceptable. Getting the HAVEN Act signed into law means veterans’ disability payments will be rightfully excluded from burdensome bankruptcy calculations, ensuring vets and their families retain the benefits they earned regardless of their financial circumstances.”
To remove this unequal treatment among various disability benefits, the HAVEN Act would exclude VA and Department of Defense disability payments made to veterans or their dependent survivors from the disposable income calculation used during a bankruptcy proceeding. Excluding these payments from the calculation will keep veterans from having to dip into their disability payments to pay off creditors.
This legislation is also a part of Tester’s larger push to help combat service member and veteran mental health issues, addiction, suicide, poverty, and homelessness – all of which are exacerbated by financial hardship. The HAVEN Act is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American
As of Aug. 11, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) updated portions of the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities(VASRD, or Rating Schedule) that evaluate infectious diseases, immune disorders and nutritional deficiencies. The collection of federal regulations used by the Veterans Benefits Administration helps claims processors evaluate the severity of disabilities and assign disability ratings. “VA is in the process of updating all 15 body systems of the VASRD to more accurately reflect modern medicine and provide Veterans with clearer rating decisions,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “By updating the rating schedule, Veterans receive decisions based on the most current medical knowledge of their condition.”
The complete list of updates to the rating schedule is available online. Claims pending prior to Aug. 11, will beconsidered under both the old and new rating criteria, and whichever criteria is more favorable to a Veteran will be applied. Claims filed on or after Aug. 11, will be rated under the new rating schedule
Updating the rating schedule for conditions related to infectious diseases, immune disorders and nutritional deficiencies, enables VA claims processors to make more consistent decisions with greater ease and ensure Veterans understand these decisions. VA remains committed to improving its service to Veterans continuously and staying at the forefront of modern medicine as it has for decades
awarding the contract, the VA can now lift the “gag” order which was
awarded by the judicial system and clinics
and hospitals in region 4 can start to award contracts to physicians and
The U.S. Department of Veterans
Affairs (VA) awarded a contract Aug. 6 to TriWest Healthcare Alliance to serve as Third Party Administrator in
managing Region4 of VA’s new Community Care Network (CCN).
The Community Care Network is the
department’s direct link with community providers that will ensure VA provides the right care at the right
time to Veterans.
Region 4 includes VA medical centers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
“This contract award reflects our ongoing commitment to increasing Veterans’ access to care,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “As part of VA’s modernization efforts, we designed the new network based on feedback from Veterans and other stakeholders, along with lessons learned from the Veterans Choice Program. We are confident that CCN will greatly improve customer service for Veterans and timeliness of payments to community providers.”
CCN will be the standard contract vehicle that allows VA to provide access to care for Veterans from community care providers using industry-standard approaches and guidelines. Until CCN is fully-implemented nationwide, TriWest Healthcare Alliance will continue to support Veteran community care through its community provider network.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is preparing to process Agent Orange
exposure claims for “Blue Water
Navy” Veterans who served offshore of the Republic of Vietnam between Jan.
9, 1962, and May 7, 1975. These Veterans may be eligible for presumption of
herbicide exposure through Public Law 116-23, Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans
Act of 2019, which was signed into law June 25, 2019, and goes into effect Jan.
new law affects Veterans who served on a vessel operating not more than 12
nautical miles seaward from the demarcation line of the waters of Vietnam and
Cambodia, as defined in Public Law 116-23. An estimated 420,000 to 560,000
Vietnam-era Veterans may be considered Blue Water Navy Veterans.
To qualify, under the
new law, these Veterans must have a disease associated with herbicide exposure,
as listed in 38 Code of Federal Regulations section 3.309(e). Agent Orange
presumptive conditions are: o AL amyloidosis Chloracne or similar acneform
disease, o Chronic B-cell leukemias, o Diabetes mellitus Type 2, o Hodgkin
lymphoma, formerly known as Hodgkin’s disease, o Ischemic heart disease, o
Multiple myeloma Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, formerly known as Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
, o Parkinson’s disease, o Peripheral neuropathy, o early-onset Porphyria
cutanea tarda, o Prostate cancer, o Respiratory cancers (lung, bronchus, larynx
or trachea), and o Soft-tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma,
chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma or mesothelioma