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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

NCIL Policy on Veterans’ Issues: Overview

ADAPT's modified American flag featuring the universal symbol of accessibility in white stars.NCIL supports efforts to provide all veterans and their families with services and benefits in the most effective and efficient manner possible in recognition of their service. Specifically, NCIL supports:

Veterans Health Administration (VHA)

  • Reform by the VA and Congress for the VHA to process appointments in a timely manner.
  • Congress must ensure that the VHA receives appropriate and sufficient funding for veterans’ healthcare while sustaining quality and satisfaction. This would include continued expansion of community-based living options such as Veteran Directed Home and Community Based Services and Medical Foster Homes.

Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA)

  • Reform by the VA and Congress for the VBA claims process to ensure consistency, true reforms with timely processing, and adjudication of claims.
  • A focus by the Department of Defense (DOD), VA, and Congress to provide proper supports for veterans who have PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and mental health issues due to service.
  • Transition from military to civilian life involves the veteran’s ability to work competitively. Congress must provide funding for education, employment, and training programs to meet increasing needs.
  • Congress must ensure that benefits received by veterans and their families are not reduced.
  • Since 2011, benefits have been created for post-9/11 military members and deservedly so. It’s time to examine the availability of those benefits for veterans who served pre-9/11.

Veteran Homelessness Prevention

  • Our President and Congress should continue to address the issue of homeless veterans and support efforts to prevent homelessness.

Veterans & Centers for Independent Living

  • There are factors affecting the daily lives of families and veterans that require needed services be available in the communities where they live. There needs to be continued effort by Congress, DOD, and the VA to engage and collaborate with community-based organizations like Centers for Independent Living, which stand ready to continue serving veterans and their families.

NCIL supports the following bills from the 115th Congress and urges swift action on these measures:

Healthcare Reform Must Help CHAMPVA Beneficiaries

The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) is a comprehensive health insurance program in which the VA shares the cost of covered healthcare services for eligible beneficiaries. Beneficiaries include dependents of veterans with catastrophic service-connected disabilities who are under the age of 23, if enrolled in an accredited school as a full-time student, or under age 18 if not so enrolled. The CHAMPVA Children’s Care Protection Act of 2017 (S. 423) and the CHAMPVA Children’s Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 92) allow children of veterans eligible for medical care under the CHAMPVA program to continue coverage up to age 26. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act left a coverage gap for children of eligible veterans from 23 to 26 years of age.

Social Security Caregiver Credit Legislation and Veterans

Social Security retirement benefits are based upon a person’s earnings in the workplace and when someone must drop out of the workforce to care for a loved one, this can have an adverse impact on their future financial security in the form of lower benefits. Legislation has been introduced to allow people who provide at least 80 hours a month of unpaid assistance for a relative with disabilities to continue earning Social Security credits. Why is this important to veterans with disabilities? A VA law specifically excludes counting the caregiver stipend for purposes of earnings credit under Social Security. Efforts are underway to extend the VA caregiver benefit to all veteran caregivers so that this legislation does not inadvertently exclude caregivers of veterans with disabilities.

Updated: March 5, 2018.