A new report says that veterans benefits are sometimes overpaid, with about 60,000 veterans drawing triple benefits, legally, by drawing military retirement, Social Security disability (SSDI), and VA disability payments. This new report, requested by Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, highlights how the government’s agencies do not interact, says the senator. The VA says they largely agree.
Other groups, however, are not so keen on the idea of shutting down the triple dipping. According to the Associated Press and U.S. News and World Report, some veterans groups say that the triple benefits payments are all justified. The retirement is for years of service in the military and disability is for service-related injuries and wounds. This leaves out the SSDI payments, however, say some proponents of streamlining.
According to the Government Accountability Office report, veterans who receive a combination of benefits are usually severely disabled, with about four out of five of them having a VA disability rating of at least 50 percent. Nearly half receiving triple payments are over 60 years of age. The AP quotes a representative of the American Legion, saying that the report is just “Sen. Coburn’s parting shots to loyal upstanding American patriots.” Yet the GAO report shows that only about 17 percent of the veterans benefits being paid in triplicate are to vets who have combat-related disability.
Meanwhile, other veterans receive no payments at all, despite attempting to receive them for years. One, who spoke exclusively to the Inquisitr, says she has been attempting to get VA benefits for nearly 15 years with no success. Kathy, who wished to keep her surname anonymous for fear of reprisal, is a veteran of the U.S. Navy who served in the Gulf War and received a Bronze Star for valor. Despite this, many of the disabilities that qualify her for SSDI payments were written off by the Veterans’ Administration as not service related until only recently.
“Now,” says Kathy, “in the last couple of years, they’ve finally admitted that many of these are Gulf War related. For the third time in twelve years, I am having to go through the process. Again. And it is painful because a lot of it is dredging up memories of things I don’t want to remember.”
Other vets share Kathy’s plight. The backlog and questionable accounting at the VA have been well-documented in the press over the last year. A recent report at the Inquisitr had a dead Marine “rescheduling” his own appointment. The average time for a veteran to apply for and receive benefits is well over 18 months and often nears two years or more.
Meanwhile, the Social Security Disability Insurance fund is expected to run out of money in 2016, reports the Washington Times. The GAO report breaks down the veterans benefits triple dippers by cost to each program. $3.5 billion was spent in 2013 on the veterans benefits triple dippers, with $1.4B coming from the VA, $1.2B coming from the Pentagon and $937.4 million from Social Security. The report identified 101 veterans who receive more than $150,000 a year in benefits and another 2,200 who receive between $100,000 and $150,000 in veterans benefits annually. The average SSDI benefit in that veterans benefit triple mix is about $20,000 per year, says the GAO.