Fresh off a record-setting increase to VA benefits, due almost entirely to inflation, there are growing concerns that the government may be making some changes to cut back some VA benefits spending. This fear has only grown since reports of just such a measure appeared in a Congressional Budget Office proposal. Are VA benefits being reduced if you earn too much money? American Disability Action Group can help you understand the core of this issue and if it’s something you have to worry about.
What is Means Testing When it Comes to Government Aid Programs?
Means testing applies to many government aid programs. Supplemental security or SSI is a very common program that is means tested. Means testing basically means that the program is needs based. In other words, the program has measures in place that look at your income and may reduce or even entirely remove your benefit based on that income.
Generally, means testing is a method that the government uses to ensure that only people that truly need the program get the benefits of the program. Some means testing may even look at your assets and ensure that you are not spending too much on things you don’t need.
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Are VA Benefits Means Tested?
Currently, VA benefits are not means tested at all. Instead, they are granted purely based on your disability rating and things like dependents and marital status. Your income is never actually taken into account to determine your benefit. A recent Congressional Budget Office or CBO proposal had a different idea.
How Would the CBO’s Proposal Have Changed VA Benefits?
The changes set forward in the CBO’s proposal would have changed how VA benefits work for 1.5 million of the 5 million that currently utilize VA benefits. That’s a staggering 30%, but how would it affect them?
Specifically, according to the proposal, the VA would begin looking at income for all VA benefits recipients starting in 2023 and affecting 2024 benefits. Households that make $175,000 a year or more would no longer receive benefits, and those that make between $125,000 and $175,000 would see their benefits reduced on a sliding scale. The higher you are on the scale (closer to $175,000), the less you would receive. These income values would change based on yearly inflation numbers.
Unlike many other means-tested programs, this proposed program would not take into account your household size at all. If you have a spouse that also earns an income, their income would be lumped in with yours without modification or adjustment to the scale when determining household income.
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Is the VA Benefits Plan Going to be Enacted?
This plan being included in a CBO proposal doesn’t mean that it’s even an endorsement of the CBO. These types of proposals are just there as potential ideas to reduce the deficit. It was never included in an actual budget or in a proposed bill. Not to mention, when news of this proposal first hit, it was met with genuine distaste from people on all ends of the political spectrum.
Need Help With Your VA Benefits?
If you need legal help with your VA benefits, the American Disability Action Group is here to help. Our lawyers have years of experience helping veterans get the benefits that they deserve. Reach out to us today for a free consultation.
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