Congressman Speaks Out Against "Disabled Veterans Tax" - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/20/03

Congressman Speaks Out Against "Disabled Veterans Tax"

They fought and sacrificed for our nation, but are retired, disabled veterans getting a fair shake? Some don't think so, and Georgia Third District Rep. Jim Marshall (D) says it's time for a change. Speaking at a "give the vets a vote" rally, Marshall called for a vote on legislation that would allow disabled veterans to receive both disability and retirement benefits without penalty.

Under a law that dates back to 1891, a veteran who is entitled to a retirement benefit and a disability payment will see a reduction in his retirement benefit equal to the amount he gets in his disability payment. Congressman Marshall calls this a "disabled veterans tax," and says it's time to change the law.

"What we've done to military retirees who are disabled is take away their disability benefit," he said. "We've basically imposed a 100 percent tax on disabled military retirees. It's never been right. Everybody agrees it needs to be fixed. The bill to fix it has been sitting there for 16 years. We want a vote on the bill."

According to a report published by Marshall, disabled veterans in Georgia lose over $130 million annually because of the this issue.

"I am 20 percent disabled by VA," said disabled veteran Leon Leach. "I was given the option to take the VA or take my full retirement check. I took the VA benefit because it's tax free, but they take 200 and some dollars from my monthly retirement check."

Marshall says the majority of house members are in favor of the bill, but each year it gets bottled up in committees by the leadership. He is calling on members of Congress who truly support veterans to sign a discharge petition to end what he calls the disabled veterans tax. A discharge petition is a special rule that allows a majority of the House of Representatives to force a vote on an issue that's still in committee. Marshall says he has 202 of the 218 votes he needs to force the vote.

Reported by: Ron Wallace, rwallace@wtoc.com

 

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