The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and other veterans' groups are mounting a letter-writing and lobbying campaign against an administration budget proposal that would cut disability benefits for thousands of veterans at a savings of more than $280 million in fiscal 1984 alone. This is another version of one of the administration's favorite ideas: reducing the benefits individuals receive from one social program by the amount they receive from another.
If a veteran is found to be between 60 and 90 percent disabled and unemployable, the Veterans Administration pays a 100 percent disability. Some of the 106,000 veterans in that category also receive Social Security, Supplemental Security Income or federal retirement benefits. Under the administration proposal, the payments received by disabled vets getting another federal check would (1) be cut back to the amount paid for the lower percentage or (2) reduced by the amount received from the other program. The DAV estimates the average disabled vet would lose between $500 and $700 monthly.
Charles Joeckel of the DAV's legislative staff said the proposal is an attempt to blend "two separate systems. The VA disability rating is based on a service-connected disability . . . Social Security is a benefit the veteran paid for, just like an insurance policy."