On May 5, 2011, a bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate to provide a cost-of-living adjustment in the benefits paid to those receiving disability compensation, compensation for dependents, clothing allowances, dependency and indemnity compensation benefits, and dependency and indemnity compensation benefits for children.
U.S. Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and every member of the Committee co-sponsored the legislation.
If enacted, this legislation would not establish a set amount paid. Rather, the amount paid would be increased based on increases in the Consumer Price Index, which is the leading indicator of cost of living in America. That is, if the cost of living in America increases by 3% then VA compensation benefits will be increased by 3% automatically. The payment rates would be calculated yearly, rounded down to the nearest whole dollar. Any increases in compensation would be based on the rates in effect on November 30, 2011.
The bill would remove from the political process adjustments in compensation paid to veterans and their dependents and guarantee an adjustment in compensation that keeps pace with the cost of living.
The text of the legislation may be found at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:S.894: .
Veterans Benefits Claims, Veterans Benefits Legislation
Even if a particular condition is not on VA’s “presumptive list” as a condition caused by Agent Orange exposure, a veteran can present medical evidence to show that his or her individual condition is “as likely as not” related to that exposure.
A new VA study suggests a link between Agent Orange exposure and kidney cancer, a condition that is not on VA’s “presumptive list.” While this is a limited study, this type of evidence may be helpful in establishing that this exposure is “as likely as not” related to kidney cancer, and can provide support for an opinion by your doctor that the two are related.
For more about the study, see http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/cancer/articles/2011/05/14/agent-orange-linked-to-kidney-cancer-study
Agent Orange, Veterans Benefits Claims
The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairwoman is set to introduce on Wednesday, May 11, 2011, a bill that would require separating service members to attend the Transition Assistance Program, more frequently known amongst service members and veterans as “TAPs.” As it stands today, the TAPs class is a voluntary program meant to assist service members in achieving employment post military service. The course currently offers guidance in resumé writing, job-search techniques and interview preparation for departing Enlisted and Officer service men and women.
TAPs is available to all departing service members, discharged other than dishonorably. Unfortunately, most service members are unaware of this opportunity. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is proposing to make the program mandatory. It appears the “Hiring Heroes” bill would maintain the same TAPs course format; there is no indication that the chairwoman is seeking any changes to what is offered. A substantial change to the program in general, however, is the government involvement in follow up.
Sen. Murray is critical of the government’s lack of assistance once service men and women separate from active duty. While the TAPs program is a step in the right direction, there is no follow up to continue to assist the veteran. It is important to note that there are programs available to assist veterans in obtaining employment after they have separated, if they ask for assistance. But again, according to Sen. Murray, many veterans are unaware of these services. The Hiring Heroes bill would require the government to contact veterans and notify them of these services while following up on their progress.
Additional programs would be available for disabled veterans as well, providing an additional 24 months of vocational rehabilitation and employment services, if the bill is passed.
To find out more information about the proposed bill, visit: http://murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?a=Files.Serve&File_id=0ea542fe-c8c9-4d9a-ae4d-bc67ffa0f909To find out more information about current Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment services, visit: http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/vre/
Education Benefits, FAQs