WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs told congressional officials Friday that all benefit checks it issues, including disability claims and pension payments, will be disrupted if a government shutdown lasts more than two or three weeks, according to congressional sources.
During the telephone briefing, the leadership of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees were told VA will run out of money to make compensation and pension payments if a partial shutdown is drawn out for weeks, according to aides to two members of Congress.
The briefing, which was provided by VA’s congressional affairs, represents a significant change from what the members had previously been told and from the information VA has released to the public, according to congressional officials. Some expressed concern during the briefing that veterans had not been given adequate information to prepare for a possible disruption in payments that many depend upon.
Some veterans live check to check, they noted.
“This is a big reason why it’s critical that the House join with the Senate to act quickly and keep the government open without any political games,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. “Our nation’s heroes, who are already waiting too long for the benefits they deserve, shouldn’t be held at the mercy of gridlock and dysfunction in Washington, D.C.”
A veterans field guide issued Friday by VA does not mention the possibility of compensation checks not being issued.
“In the event of a prolonged shutdown, VA will continue to review and update its plan in conjunction with the applicable legal requirements and circumstances,” said Victoria Dillon, a spokeswoman for the department.