House bill would speed disability payments to wounded troops
A bipartisan bill promises to speed disability payments to troops wounded in Afghanistan, but it must clear a Congress so divided that 96 percent of proposed legislation dies on Capitol Hill.
Inspired by chats with wounded troops at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Centre County, has proposed HR 6445, the Recovering Service Members Disability Benefits Act. It would exempt active-duty, Reserve and National Guard service members injured in a combat zone from the customary five-month waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance payments.
This would help the most vulnerable veterans and their families – those troops transitioning out of the military but too sick to work.
These payments, often shortened to “SSDI,” typically augment benefits from the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs and are provided only to permanently disabled personnel. Social Security expedites claims for wounded troops, but Thompson's measure would end the waiting period for the disability payments.
“For those men and women who have sustained combat-related injuries, they deserve better,” said Thompson, 53. “We need to collapse that five-month wait. The money they deserve already has been approved and the additional costs for this are minimal. I'm very optimistic that it can get through.”
Thompson would like the lame-duck Senate to fold his measure into the $635 billion defense spending bill the House passed in May. It has not been enacted because of partisan election-year squabbling.
Thompson's bill is co-sponsored by Rep. David Loebsack, D-Iowa, and three House Republicans: Lycoming County's Tom Marino, North Carolina's Walter Jones and Florida's Allen West, a Tea Party favorite who also is a retired Army veteran of the war in Iraq.
“Our service members who have been wounded defending our country should not have to wait for benefits or face financial hardship. They should be able to focus on their recovery, not delays in their benefits,” Loebsack said in a written statement.
The VFW supports Thompson's bill, which also garnered support from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the National Guard Association of the United States.
“Our American heroes have earned this,” said Thompson. “What little cost there is, it will diminish in time as the war in Afghanistan winds down.”
Carl Prine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7826 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.