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.