Will the government shutdown affect veterans benefits?

10/3/2013

Will the government shutdown affect veterans benefits?

It's only been two days since the government shutdown began, but veterans might already be feeling the strain of the federal closure. According to The Washington Post, veterans benefits are currently in danger - especially if the shutdown continues past October.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will run out of funds for disability checks, pensions and insurance for veterans by the end of the month, the news source reported. Losing these benefits might heavily impact wounded servicemembers who rely on VA paychecks to live.

"Congress and the White House, they're playing chicken with people's lives," Chief Policy Officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Tom Tarantino told the news source. "That's where this becomes scary."

Disability claims, which have been on backlog for the last year, are also at risk. According to the news outlet, the VA released a statement Oct. 1 warning that the shutdown will negate its recent progress on the disability claims backlog. Although the VA is keeping claims processors on staff during the shutdown, the agency was forced to suspend its overtime processors - an initiative that began in May and reduced the backlog by 30 percent. 

An official from the VA predicts that the backlog will increase due to the shutdown, the news source reported. The Board of Veterans Appeals can no longer hear disability appeals cases, which might lead to a delay of thousands of appeals, according to Washington Post political reporter Steve Vogel.

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