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Don't cut Nebraska's veterans' benefits as part of budget deal

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As budget negotiations continue in Washington, AARP today released an analysis showing the negative impact one proposal – the so called “chained CPI” -- would have on Nebraska’s veterans’ compensation and pensions.

The chained CPI would change the way the cost-of-living adjustment is calculated for veterans’ compensation and Social Security, reducing amounts veterans receive every year, and over time cutting benefits the most for the oldest veterans, including those with severe disabilities.  AARP joins more than a dozen veterans’ groups in opposing adoption of the chained CPI, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America and Disabled American Veterans.

“Nebraska’s veterans and their families deserve our support and thanks for their service and sacrifices, not cuts to the benefits they have earned and rely on,” said Connie Benjamin, state director of AARP in Nebraska.  “Adoption of the chained CPI would have a devastating effect on the financial well-being of our state’s veterans, and we urge Nebraskans to let their members of Congress know that imposing the chained CPI is unacceptable.”

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Nebraska was home to 143,000 veterans in 2011.  Using data from the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, AARP calculates that adoption of the chained CPI would result in Nebraska’s veterans losing $113 million over a 10-year period.  Nationally, 23 million disabled veterans and military retirees would see their compensation and benefits cut by $17 billion over that 10-year period.

Under this proposal, benefits for retired and disabled veterans would shrink by larger amounts every year, hurting those who served our nation more and more as they age and their retirement savings start to run out.

And our nation’s youngest veterans – especially those who were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan -- would face harmful cuts according to the Congressional Budget Office.  Replacing the current COLA formula with the chained CPI would cause a 30-year-old veteran with severe disabilities to see his or her veterans’ benefits reduced annually by $1,425 at age 45, $2,341 at 55 and $3,231 at 65.

“Veterans understand sacrifice and the need for fiscal discipline.  But we have made promises to our veterans who’ve sacrificed so much for our nation, and those promises must be kept.  Imposing the chained CPI on Nebraska’s veterans would break our promise to those who have given so much to our state and nation, and AARP joins with veterans’ groups across the nation in opposing this proposal,” Benjamin said.

[Photo Credit: Josh LeClair/Flickr]

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