Update (September 29th, 2023) on the Impact of a Potential Government Shutdown for Veterans
Veterans who depend on governmental medical care and other support will remain able to consult their physicians, along with accessing their educational and pension benefits, even if the looming partial government shutdown becomes a reality, interrupting many federal functions.
On Tuesday, the Department of Veterans Affairs shared insights on the services that will persist and those that might halt if the funding deadlock in Congress isn’t resolved by the deadline this Saturday at midnight.
The following veteran and family services will remain operational:
- Essential medical care via the Veterans Health Administration.
- Processing and disbursement of education benefits.
- Veterans Benefits Administration’s insurance proceedings and loan guarantee programs.
- Transaction processing for the Veteran Readiness and Employment initiative.
- Processing and disbursing compensation and pensions.
- Benefits case hearings and verdicts by the Board of Veterans Appeals.
- The majority of the national benefits call center functions (education-related services excluded).
- Burial ceremonies.
These operations benefit from prearranged funding or span multiple years. Carryover funds from preceding years will back these services “until such funds are exhausted,” as stated in the official communication.
A significant 97% of the VA’s workforce either benefits from early funding or are “designated to carry out vital roles during a shutdown.”
Of the VA’s 450,000-plus workers, a total of 15,620 will face temporary layoff if a shutdown transpires.
A number of initiatives under the 2022’s PACT Act, intended to broaden benefits for veterans exposed to harmful substances, have pre-existing funding, which also covers provisions from the recent Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Veterans can continue to reach out to the VA through the 1-800-MyVA411 hotline, especially to get details about care related to chronic ailments and conditions linked to exposure to open burn pits, Agent Orange, radiation, and other environmental perils.
However, certain VA functions will be halted during a shutdown:
- The educational call center, commonly referred to as the GI Bill hotline.
- The Native American Veterans Direct Loan initiative.
- Vendee direct loan services.
- Initiatives like Veteran Readiness and Employment and Personalized Career Planning and Guidance.
- Various externally oriented functions such as digital and conventional outreach for veterans, liaison with community and faith groups, and engagement with tribal governments, Pacific Islanders, and rural veteran communities.
- Installation of permanent tombstones and markers at veterans’ burial sites.
Veterans have given so much to this country, and in return, the nation has a duty to provide them with the benefits they’ve earned.
However, there’s good news: the system is built to ensure veterans’ benefits remain uninterrupted, even during these challenging times.
If you are still applying for benefits or appealing, you should read below for more information.
You will be impacted during a government shutdown and need to be aware of what would happen.
Understanding Government Shutdowns and Their Impact on Veterans
A government shutdown can raise many questions, especially for our dedicated veterans.
To clarify its implications, let’s simplify the concept.
A government shutdown occurs when Congress, responsible for deciding how the country’s money should be spent, cannot reach an agreement by a certain deadline.
This situation can be likened to a household unable to set a monthly budget, leading to uncertainties about expenses such as groceries, bills, and recreational activities.
As a result, certain parts of the government may temporarily cease operations.
The primary concern for many of you might be: “How does this impact veterans? Will the delivery of disability and pension benefits be affected?”
Fortunately, there’s reassuring news:
- Safe and Sound: Despite potential government shutdowns, funds earmarked for veterans remain protected. This can be visualized as having a special savings account reserved solely for essential commitments, such as our benefits and medical care.
- A Commitment Honored: Reflecting on past shutdown experiences, the VA ensured that Congress prioritizes and secures our benefits in advance. This proactive approach is akin to settling important bills ahead of their due dates, eliminating future uncertainties.
In essence, while other sectors of the government may experience brief interruptions, the benefits rightfully earned by veterans remain uninterrupted.
Hill & Ponton is dedicated to supporting and informing you every step of the way, ensuring your peace of mind.
The Assurance: Veterans Benefits Remain Secure
Navigating the complexities of a government shutdown can be challenging.
Yet, amid the uncertainties, there’s a beacon of reassurance for veterans concerning their disability and pension benefits.
Let’s delve deeper into the reasons why these benefits remain a priority even during challenging governmental situations.
Prioritization by Law
The U.S. Code, which acts as the foundational guide for the country’s laws, has a provision ensuring that funds for veterans benefits and medical care are allocated a year in advance.
This foresight ensures continuity in the delivery of benefits, irrespective of budgetary disagreements in Congress.
Learning from History
The government has faced shutdowns in the past, and these events have informed our present policies.
The VA recognized the importance of maintaining unwavering support for veterans and subsequently advocated for advanced funding of benefits programs.
This approach ensures that while other areas may face fiscal interruptions, veterans’ benefits continue undisturbed.
A closer look at the budget bill of December 2022 offers more insight into the protection of veterans’ benefits.
While this budget supports governmental functions up to Sept. 30, 2023, specific provisions guarantee funding for the Veterans Benefits Administration and the Veterans Health Administration at the onset of Fiscal Year 2024.
In simpler terms, as other functions may face a funding gap, veterans benefits programs will access new funds, ensuring smooth operations.
What if you’re waiting to get your claim processed? Filing a New Claim? Appealing?
The major concern for the government shutdown is for veterans that are applying for benefits still, filing for an appeal or wanting to file a claim.
If a government shutdown were to occur, it would impact millions of government jobs and potentially stall all of these claims from being processed.
Your benefits and financial security should never be compromised.
Stay informed, stay engaged, and reach out to your representatives to express your concerns.
We will continue to provide updates on this critical issue that affects veterans.
Have Questions About Understanding How the Claims Process Works? Check out our free ebook!
If you are intending to appeal a denied claim, you can contact us for an evaluation and we can help you with this process.
However, if you are considering filing an initial claim, or even if you are interested in learning about the appeals process, we offer a free ebook to get you started on the right foot!
The Road to VA Compensation Benefits will help break down the claims process from start to finish. Click the link below to learn more.
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