Tester introduces bill to protect veterans’ pensions

Senator: Veterans facing poverty ‘shouldn’t be forced to choose’ between pensions or injury claims

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Jon Tester today introduced legislation to protect the pensions of veterans who are compensated for damages if they are wrongfully injured during a medical procedure.

Currently, any money received from an insurance claim, court judgment, or injury settlement counts toward a veteran’s income when the VA determines pension eligibility.  This means low-income veterans who are compensated even for small settlements risk losing their pensions.

VA pensions go only to veterans facing extreme poverty—about $12,000 in annual income for a veteran with no spouse or child.

Tester’s Veterans Pension Protection Act would change the VA’s income eligibility rules to protect veterans’ pensions should they receive compensation for injury claims.

Tester wrote the Veterans Pension Protection Act after helping a Montana veteran who was forced to choose between his pension or a settlement from his claim against a VA doctor, who was fired for malpractice.  Tester also worked with the Montana State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America on the bill.

“It’s a matter of fairness that veterans shouldn’t be forced to choose between their pensions or compensation for wrongful injuries,” said Tester, Montana’s only member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  “These folks have earned their health benefits by putting their lives on the line for our country.  It’s the right thing to do to make sure their pensions aren’t threatened through no fault of their own.”

The Veterans Pension Protection Act is available on Tester’s website, HERE.

Tester’s landmark Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act, was signed into law on May 5.  That bill, which improves health care for all veterans in Montana and across rural America, was supported by several national veterans’ organizations, including: The Wounded Warrior Project, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Disabled Veterans of America.