How the American Rescue Plan aids VA in helping Veterans


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The COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding economic crisis have had a tremendous impact on the health and economic wellbeing of millions of Veterans. Now, the American Rescue Plan will help them further recover.

The ARP enhances VA’s ability to deliver world class services to Veterans and their families, but it will also ease thousands of Veterans’ worries by forgiving some accumulated debt, speed up VA compensation claims, and provide much need funding to retrain them in high-demand occupations.

Here is how the American Rescue Plan will help VA improve Veterans’ lives:

  • $14.5 billion for COVID-19 related health care, including information technology and facility requirements, ensuring access for 9.2 million enrolled Veterans who may have delayed care or have more complex health care needs as a result of the pandemic. It also provides resources for Veterans currently receiving housing support, including an estimated 37,000 homeless Veterans.
  • $1 billion for debt forgiveness related to copayments or other cost sharing that Veterans paid for VA health care, and to reimburse Veterans who paid a copay or other cost sharing for care and prescriptions provided from April 6, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2021.
  • $750 million for both construction grants ($500 million) and payments ($250 million) to State Homes to greatly improve the living conditions of our most vulnerable Veterans.
  • $386 million to initiate a COVID–19 Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program that provides up to 12 months of training and employment assistance for unemployed Veterans to enter high demand occupations.
  • $262 million to reduce the backlog of compensation and pension claims, which has grown from 76,000 in March 2020 to more than 212,000 in March 2021. The ARP funding will enable the Veterans Benefits Administration to reduce the claims backlog to around 100,000 by September 2022.
  • $100 million to facilitate the modernization of VA’s badly antiquated supply chain system by accelerating the Department’s transition to the Defense Medical Logistics Standard Support.
  • $80 million to establish the Department of Veterans Affairs Employee Leave Fund, which provides funds for paid leave for COVID-19 related causes.
  • $10 million to decrease the Board of Veterans’ Appeals hearing requests (currently 87,499) and intake (35,000 appeals) backlogs. These efforts help Veterans economically by resolving their VA appeals and, if granted, allowing them to begin receiving compensation and services.

Additional American Rescue Plan support:

  • Veterans experiencing unemployment and other financial hardships may also qualify for further assistance with an extension of unemployment insurance benefits, stimulus checks, or expansion of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits.
  • Veterans with children could benefit from additional stimulus payments, an increased child tax credit and expanded childcare tax credits.
  • Veterans are prioritized for the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Grants in the Small Business Administration’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund. During the initial 21-day period in which the Small Business Administration (SBA) awards grants under this program, SBA will prioritize awarding grants to eligible entities that are owned and controlled by Veterans.
  • Helps small businesses in economically disadvantaged areas keep front line state and local public workers on the job and paid, and helps public transit agencies avoid layoffs and service reductions.
  • Assists communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, many of which are Veterans living in diverse communities across the country. Women and racial/ethnic minorities are becoming the fastest-growing populations of Veterans, and the COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding economic crisis have hit communities of color and women particularly hard.
  • Provides emergency funding for community investments to ease challenges experienced by many American Indian/Alaska Native Veterans and their families. It provides much needed relief for healing in the aftermath of the tremendous losses during the pandemic.
  • Closes what is known as the “90/10 loophole” to protect the integrity of the GI Bill and Veterans in receipt of their well-earned education benefits.

Additional resources:

HHS: The American Rescue Plan: Reduces Health Care Costs, Expands Access to Insurance Coverage and Addresses Health Care Disparities

CMS: American Rescue Plan and the Marketplace

USDA: American Rescue Plan and Rural America

HUD: Housing Provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Clay Allan Coker    

    What happens to a Veteran when their trust in the Veterans Administration has been completely destroyed? Nothing, that’s what! They waste away and die miserable with no help because they can no longer force themselves to go to the VA.

  2. Steve Taylor    

    At this point I’d be happy just to get some usable help with my lower back pain that I have endured since 2008!

  3. Joseph Anthony Bosanac    

    I have appealed my claim in 2019. I hunted down old shipmates and doctors to be able to substantiate my claim. Nothing has happened with the claim. I’m getting stressed and ill over the promises of a maximum 4 month waiting period. I have lost most of my life and my children’s lives over what occured in Vietnam. Now, I’m 73 and really can’t take much more. How can this happen???

  4. Sharon Cooper    

    Do any funds from this new initiative go directly toward securing housing for homeless veterans?

  5. Brian Bukosky    

    I am behind in my rent 8 months at $750 per month. Once the non eviction order is lifted what am I and many others going to do. Are there any financial resources that could assist me? I’ll be homeless how will I be able to take care of my daughter?

  6. Bill Browne    

    Can Cook County Veterans Affairs government get access to any of the VA funding provided by the American Rescue Plan ?
    We have many veterans that we can provide assistance through the American Rescue Plan? Thank You

    Bill Browne
    Director – Cook County Veterans Affairs

  7. Craig Jackson    

    When are we going get the 1400 stimulus check?

  8. Bill Browne    

    How is the American Rescue Plan different from the stimulus checks being given to most Americans?

    How can a veteran apply for funds under the American rescue plan?

  9. Le Roy Gerald Jones    

    I received the prior stimulus deposits but have not received this one for $1,400. When will it be deposited?

  10. Steve William Starkell    

    I have not received travel pay for December, January, February, Now going through March. Filled the form handed to me, Because I have no enternet out here! Put it in the box? February 15 2021. No response. Gas has gone up! On a budget. This change of Transportation Department!! Has caused hardships to other VETERANS!!! So I’m not alone!!!!# Today I have another appointment March 18. I rely on travel pay, do to my income!
    May have to give up driving.

  11. Shandell    

    I’m a veteran that was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis disease in 2019 I had surgery at the VA hospital and woke up to find out the doctor had and accident and nicked an artery and now I can’t work on social security and I can’t get any compensation for what happened to me it’s not fair that the Va hospitals cause injury to veterans across the U.S. and then leave them out and when we file your’re waiting for months or years for them to tell you no cause they have people looking at your file that don’t even specialize in what you filing compensation. Veterans should be able to sue just like they would be able to if they went to a civilian hospital and the doctor have an accident or make a mistake. I don’t have no faith in the system

    [Editor: Sorry to hear about this, Shandell. It’s true that VA’s disability compensation is for injuries or medical conditions that occurred as a result of active duty service, but there is another way. You can learn more, here: https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/special-claims/1151-claims-title-38 ]

  12. Johnny arocho    

    Guys don’t feel bad I’ve being trying to get help with the VA for hearing loss and other things which I don’t write about with the VA but they choose who they want to help. Like many off you guys said is a shame that we put our lives in the harms way sometimes loose our family or get divorce and the military doesn’t care about that.

    1. John Saunders    

      I have had a hearing loss claim in since September 2020 and my injury was back in 1971/72 time frame. My tinnitus is getting worse. I should have been on hearing disability years ago. I thought I just had to live with it so I didn’t file until a VA counselor told me I could get disability so I filled. I’ve gone through all the steps and now I’m in a waiting game. From what I’ve read they are so far behind I’ll probably never see any compensation for my injury. I’m 71 now with not too many years left. We’ll see if they come through. I’m not very hopeful. Good luck on your claim. You deserve compensation.

  13. Don Juan    

    More money for the VA swamp dwellers…

  14. David paul Moyer    

    I was messed with by dav in Missouri and then the lost my records I lost out on 4 years compensation who do you talk to va took my meds away with nothing to help me in return not even an aspirin I am in pain every day sleep about 3hrs I cannot keep this up. This for serving my country. No thanks when I came back from Vietnam and no help now some day it will change when we all die.

  15. Richard S Taylor    

    No oversight,Drank contaminated water at camp lejeune for 22 months, Parkinson’s disease, adrenal gland tumors, colon cancer twice, multiple health issues..DENIED with nexus letters and every claim over 20 denials. Even with records putting me on the operating table hospitalized for a week. The va told me I will get my benefits when I’m on my deathbed. I heard them laughing in the background. Semper fi. I disclaim ever being a Marine. They poisoned me and deny me my benefits. Infantry 0311 .

    1. K Cor    

      Hi. Contact the nearest Vietnam Veterans of America. They helped me. Here are the links:
      https://vva.org/
      https://vva.org/what-we-do/veteran-services/service-officer-locator/

  16. Lee Eric Hermanson    

    First of all I’d like to say that I am very grateful for what the VA has done for me recently. I want a Vietnam combat veteran who is discharged from Vietnam with a honorable discharge. I re-upped in Vietnam and had no idea that I was mentally ill. When I returned to the world I had such difficulty that I was discharged from the United States Army with an undesirable discharge for the reason that I was mentally incapable of continuing service in the United States Army. I do not believe that I was discharged correctly. I applied for VA benefits and compensation in 1971 then again in 1972 and what is officially denied. I have been trying to get some of that back pay because they have diagnosed me 100% PTSD disabled combat-related. I am now receiving my benefits because of due diligence by Marilyn Maxwell Veterans of Foreign Wars San Diego California. She retired over a year ago and since then it has been hell on Earth trying to get somebody to help me. It’s not the Veterans of Foreign Wars fault for this who’s the fault of the government. There are so few people helping us add Veterans of Foreign Wars that they are overwhelmed. I believe this is why I cannot get any results. I know that there are many more bets out there who have suffered like I have suffered. I was injured during a rocket attack in 1969 and have not been able to walk right since that day. I was in contact with three chemicals in Vietnam Agent Orange napalm and mustard gas and still they will not compensate me for those years of suffering and inability to work and perform as a normal citizen of the United States of America. All I can say from here is God bless all soldiers and all veterans for you to deserve what you were promised.

    [Editor: When VA makes a decision on a claim, the decision isn’t legally final until 12 months have passed since the decision. In that timeframe, the claimant can accept the decision and do nothing or disagree with the decision and file an appeal. Filing an appeal keeps that original decision open, not final. When VA makes a decision on an appeal, the appellant again has two choices: agree and do nothing, in which case the decision is finalized 12 months after the appeal decision, or disagree, keeping the appeal of the original claim active. This is how some people say “my claim is 25 years old.” They’ve received multiple decisions from VA, but by disagreeing each time, they’ve kept it active, not final. In this case, it is possible for backpay to go back to the original claim. But if any of those decisions become final – 12 months from decision – then the claim and its appeals are legally complete. Thus, if your claims from 1971 and 1972 are completed, and you file another claim in the 80s or 90s or even now for the same condition, and get approved, there is no legal or procedural method to ask for backpay from the claim in 1971 or 1972.]

  17. Joseph    

    Where did the rest of the money go? I’m no mathematician but I know that all that doesn’t add up to 1.9 trillion! Magic DC math I guess.

    1. George    

      Did you read the entire bill? Add up all the amounts in the actual bill before commenting things like this please. https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/1319/text

  18. Snuffy    

    Please explain to me how women and minorities were “affected” more significantly than non-minority men. The fact that the VA supports this ideal is just another reason to tear down the VA and start over. They are pathetic and do not care about veterans in need.

  19. Gwendolyn Stuckey    

    It would be great if more consideration was available to Veterans who work. The majority of us struggle trying to work but we don’t want to find ourselves in the position of homelessness. We’re just trying to survive, but it’s almost as if you’re punished because you work and viewed as if you don’t have the same needs as Veterans who don’t work.

  20. Moises Perez Garcia    

    I am proud of VA services to us veterans.

  21. Michelle Annette Sanchez    

    Hello, I want to Reside in Oahu, HAWAII. My Dr. Rivas IS The Only Doctor I can Trust 100%. I’m willing Serve the United States 100%. Very Sincerely MAS.

  22. Patricia Laster    

    I am a veteran that has been battling with the VA, over compensation for illness and injuries that occurred while in the military, now it’s been in appeal for 8 years….why do VA give veterans a hard time over benefits and compensation rightfully due to them…it’s really a slap in the face for putting your life on the line for your country…

    1. Thomas Whittingham    

      I can not say one hundred percent accurately but… I Believe that at the Government administration level the thinking is probably that if they stall us long enough then they will not have to compensate us for such a long time. They save money and the admin. person gets a bonus for keeping costs down. Even when you do finally get approved and go to the compensation review , they have a Rube Goldberg system to lessen the cost to them if you have multiple issues. We Vietnam Vets are still waiting for some conditions related to Agent Orange to be approved for compensation.

      [Editor: There is no limit to how much VA can pay in compensation. More Veterans are filing more claims with more medical conditions, and they’re being granted at higher average percentages than ever before. In fact, VBA’s budget increases every year: https://benefits.va.gov/REPORTS/abr/ ]

    2. Tammy Petty    

      Patricia, If you are not in touch with a VA service officer in your area, find one please. Contact VFW in your area. there is help for appeals as well as claims.

    3. robert butzin    

      I agree to the difficulty of getting compensation. Spouse is going on 8 years of appeals. We have done everything they have asked of us. Then 1 VA dr saw us 1 time and she decided it was not military related. Now we are back to square one and we cannot get archived military hospital records right now because of covid. I have contacted my spouses service officer. He was NO help. I have a stack of records 2 feet high. Now VA wants them again. So much wasted time. Meanwhile my husband suffers. WHY? The military adage hurry up and wait never rang more true.

  23. David Calvert    

    I am a veteran who has depended on the healthcare that the va offers to us.along with a system to file, a veterans claims and appeals.much needed funds was allocated to these programs,which should jumpstart all…….

  24. David Calvert    

    Everything in this article is true.I have depended on the va for so many of the articles that if checked into,you will see how veterans so depends on them. 80% to 100% of veterans would have nowhere else to go,for there health & welfare.Including myself.The range that this covid relief covers helps veterans to get closer to their goals,which are to many to list here.But this relief package for veterans will be the guide for better health care and hopefully better well-being.

  25. Larry D. Wilson    

    Veterans should be in charge of hud-vash, not some non-veteran who can’t relate to veterans.
    You can’t put veterans in the class with civilians.
    No more homeless veterans….

  26. James James parshall    

    The VA don’t help anybody help having trying to get help for general since 2014 20 optical since 2016 so they when they say they help me book they don’t

  27. Julie Benoit    

    There needs to be some reviews and support for veterans who are being targeted by civilians who either don’t support the military/government or are looking for ways to exploit the veteran population. A private way to connect with authorities who can thwart the actions that divert benefits away from the veteran to others…

  28. Kesha M Skyles    

    Hello, I am the spouse of a deceased veteran with a dependent. I am waiting for claim, since Sept 20, they keep saying it is being processed. We need these benefits now, especially during this pandemic. What kind of resources can I request/receive.

  29. David L Williams    

    Can you please provide an update on what timeline veterans are going to be getting the 1400 stimulus check in 2021

    1. Reginaldo Catindig    

      I did received the $600 stimulus check, are we going to receive the $1400 stimulus check this month?

Comments are closed.