When President Trump’s budget (“the budget”) was released, everyone knew that it was trouble for veterans. AMVETS called it a “despicable attack on our nation’s most vulnerable heroes,” and it was similarly lamented by Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, and the American Legion. Luckily, Senator Brian Schatz of Hawai’i, alongside Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz and others, fought back.
How the Budget Affects Veterans
According to a report compiled in part by Senator Schatz, the budget is rife with cuts to much-needed veterans’ services.
It includes steep cuts to medical spending, including research programs related to prosthetics, environmental exposure, degenerative diseases, and traumatic injuries, and dramatically reduces funding for the VA’s Department of Information Technology. Further, it sharply limits the number of new VA personnel which will be hired in 2018, which means the backlog of disability claims and appeals will continue to grow.
Most concerning, however, is the impact that the initial proposal would have had on Total Disability Individual Unemployability (“TDIU”) benefits.
Cuts to TDIU Benefits
TDIU benefits provide compensation at a 100% disability rating to veterans who are unable to maintain substantial employment because of their service-connected disabilities, even when those disabilities do not carry a 100% rating on their own. They are a critical resource for many veterans who may not be able to afford life’s most basic necessities without them.
Currently, veterans can obtain TDIU and Social Security benefits at the same time, however the original budget proposal forbid the concurrent receipt of both benefits. Instead, veterans would have lost eligibility for TDIU benefits as soon as they became eligible for Social Security. This would be a shocking outcome, particularly in light of the fact that it is against the law to consider age as a factor when evaluating service-connected disability claims.
Luckily, thanks in part to the efforts of Senator Schatz, this part of the budget has been shelved.
We Support Hawai’i Veterans
At the Law Offices of Attorney Sean Kendall, we have worked with the veterans of Hawai’i for years. Our clients come from several different islands, and on multiple occasions we have flown to Oahu and the Big Island to appear on their behalf. As such, we know how important TDIU benefits can be for the veterans of Hawai’i, and we whole-heartedly stand by Senator Schatz in his efforts to make sure they remain accessible, even in veterans’ later years.
If you are a veteran based in Hawai’i and you have a service-connected disability which prevents you from maintaining substantial employment, we encourage you to apply for TDIU benefits right away.
If you have already applied and the VA has denied your application, we are here to help. Send us a note online or give us a call at (877) 629-1712 to see if we can help you win your appeal. With decades of combined experience helping the veterans of Hawai’i overcome VA denials, we are confident that we can win you the benefits you deserve. In the meantime, start preparing your appeal using the resources found here.