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McBath, Steube Garner Bipartisan Support For Veterans Assistance Bill

July 19, 2019 by Sean Trambley
Sam Genco, a "Blue Water" Navy Vietnam veteran who lives in Pine Knoll Shores, N.C., is not automatically eligible for disability benefits even though he has a health problem known to be linked to dioxin, a chemical used in Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. He says he was exposed through the drinking water distillation system used on Navy ships. (Travis Long/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

First-term Representatives Lucy McBath, D-Ga., and Greg Steube, R-Fla., have introduced legislation aimed at protecting disabled veterans and their families who are experiencing financial hardship.

Introduced in May, the bipartisan Honoring American Veterans in Extreme Need (HAVEN) Act, H.R. 2938, would amend current bankruptcy law to better protect the economic security of veterans and their families.

Under current bankruptcy law, disability benefits paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense are included in the calculation of a debtor’s disposable income, increasing the portion of the debtor’s income that is subject to the reach of creditors. 

The HAVEN Act would amend bankruptcy law to treat VA and DoD disability benefits the same as Social Security disability benefits, which are exempt from this calculation. 

The legislation would remove this unequal treatment by excluding VA and DoD disability payments made to veterans or their dependent survivors from the monthly income calculation used to determine the portion of income that is subject to the reach of creditors.

“Our disabled veterans earned their benefits by serving our great nation, and we must protect them and their families, especially during financial hardship,” Representative McBath said. “This bipartisan legislation would safeguard the disability benefits that our veterans and their families deserve and depend on. I’m proud to support the HAVEN Act – we must do right by our veterans.”

“I’m proud to support the HAVEN Act and ensure that benefits afforded to our disabled veterans are just that—benefits, not burdens. This bill will make sure that disability payments are not counted as income in bankruptcy,” Repesentative Greg Steube said. “We should help veterans who have fallen on tough financial times, not hurt them by taking away the very payments they earned fighting for our freedom.”

Representative McBath spoke in support of the HAVEN Act on the House floor, which can be viewed here

The HAVEN Act now has bipartisan 37 cosponsors and companion legislation, S. 679, has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. Full text of the legislation can be found here

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