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Are the suggested changes to VA benefits a good idea?

While much of the nation is focusing its attention on the growing need for general Social Security disability benefits, few realize that the need for disability benefits for veterans is also on the rise. In 2013, there were 3.5 million veterans receiving disability benefits. That’s up from the 2.3 million in 2000.

But the VA program, as some of our Michigan readers have heard from the news, has seen a number of issues arise that has prevented it from providing benefits to in-deed veterans. A growing backlog because of budget problems has led President Obama to sign a bill that will provide the VA with an additional $16.3 million to fix the issue. But this isn’t the only fix that has been suggested.

Of the many suggestions, one could create potential problems for veterans. The suggestion is to establish a time limit on applications for disability benefits. Although it is believed that a time limit of five years after leaving the service will save the program around $28 billion, this could prove problematic in cases where a disabling condition takes longer than five years to present itself. A veteran could miss out on the benefits he or she deserves.

Another suggestion could require taxation on disability benefits. But much like the suggested change above, this could also create problems, especially if the benefits do not cover all of the financial obligations of the veteran. Although taxing these benefits would save the administration roughly $64 billion by 2024, it could put some veterans in problematic financial situations.

So are these suggested changes a good idea? Though it depends on how you look at it, some of our readers may not think they are such a good idea because one would prevent some veterans from receiving the benefits they deserve while the other might create financial problems. Both are not scenarios anyone would wish upon anyone in this country.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Disability Payments to Veterans More than Doubled Since 2000,” Erica E. Phillips, Aug. 7, 2014

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