(Washington, D.C.) Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) released the following statement on passage of Amendment #16 to H.R. 4909, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017. The amendment exempts reimbursements for medical expenses from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) calculation of annual income when determining pension eligibility for veterans.
“This important amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act will rectify a grave injustice. The VA’s inclusion of medical reimbursements as a form of income in relation to pension eligibility has led to situations where low-income veterans are cut off from their pensions at the moment they need them the most. This is wrong, and it is high time this loophole be addressed. I am pleased my amendment passed and will continue to work to ensure this exemption is enacted into law. ”
When assessing a veteran’s eligibility for a pension, the VA considers a variety of sources of revenue to determine his or her annual income. If such income exceeds the income limit set by the VA, the veteran does not qualify for a pension, or loses his or her benefits. Under current law, reimbursements resulting from any accident, theft, loss, or casualty loss are exempted, while reimbursements for medical expenses are not.
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.