VA pension and disability threatened if shutdown continues

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If the government shutdown last more than a few weeks, veterans might not get their disability and pension benefits, says a Sept. 30 statement from Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

October payments have already gone out, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association website says, but the Veterans Affairs Department might not have enough cash on hand to make November payments if the shutdown continues.

Leadership of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees were told the Veterans Affairs Department will run out of money to make disability and pension payments if the shutdown lasts longer than a few weeks, the Washington Post reports.

The VA doesn't mention that possibility in its shutdown contingency plan (.pdf). In fact the plan states that pension and benefits are excepted functions and would be provided to veterans despite the shutdown.

But the VA plan is provided for a short-term shutdown, it says, and a long-term event will require further analysis and development. The VA doesn't spell out the duration it considers to be a short-term shutdown

In an attempt to quell any delay in VA benefits payments due to an extended shutdown, Sanders introduced a bill that would ensure the VA has funds to make disability and pension payments to veterans.

The legislation would protect mandatory compensation and pension benefits for veterans and their families, including survivor benefits to the survivors of deceased veterans, the Sept. 30 statement says.

For more:
- go to the the IAVA FAQ
- download the VA contingency plan (.pdf)
- go to the Sanders statement

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