Reid again pushes bill to ensure full benefits for veterans

WASHINGTON — Sen. Harry Reid today revived legislation to provide full benefits to disabled veterans who must forfeit a portion of their retirement pay to collect disability.

Since 2000, Reid has introduced bills to address the federal policy of concurrent receipt, which requires a veteran’s retirement pay to be reduced by the amount of his or her VA disability compensation.

Most years Congress has chipped away at the policy, restoring portions of the benefits for some disabled veterans.

“It is simply absurd to deny disabled veterans every dollar they deserve,” Reid, D-Nev., said in a statement. “Being compensated for disability and for years of good service are completely separate, and one must not be held against the other. We must keep the promise we make to every veteran by ensuring they receive all the benefits they earn.”

The 2010 budget unveiled by President Barack Obama last month promised to expand concurrent receipt benefits, but details have not been announced.

In 2003 Congress allowed veterans with at least a 50 percent disability rating to become eligible for full benefits over a 10-year phase-in period. In 2004 the phase-in was eliminated for veterans declared 100 percent disabled.

In 2005 veterans classified by the VA as “unemployable” were granted full benefits.

Reid’s latest legislation would declare all disabled veterans eligible for full disability and retirement payments.

Reid aides said they did not have information on hand on how much the legislation might cost. In 2003 the Government Accountability Office estimated that earlier versions of the bill could cost $46 billion over 10 years.

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