RAO Davao City

United States Military Retiree Activities Office Davao City, Philippines

VA INDEPENDENT LIVING PROGRAM UPDATE – May 1 2008

Posted by Service Officer on April 30th, 2008

On 15 APR Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced the proposed Training and Rehabilitation for Disabled Veterans Enhancement Act of 2008 (S.2864). The bill stems in part from a 5 FEB 08 congressional hearing on vocational rehabilitation, as well as Committee oversight. In addition, it responds to a DEC 07 VA Inspector General report.

If enacted, this bill will improve the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Independent Living (IL) program conducted under the authority of chapter 31 of title 38, United States Code, which serves veterans whose disabilities render them unable to work. VA’s IL Program was first established in 1980 by Public Law 96-466, the Veterans Rehabilitation and Education Amendments of 1980.

Initially, that law provided for the establishment of a four-year pilot program designed to provide independent living services for severely disabled veterans for whom the achievement of a vocational goal was not reasonably feasible.

The number of veterans who could be accepted annually into the pilot program was capped at 500. In 1986, the program was extended through 1989 and then, in 1989, it was made in Public Law 101-237, the Veterans’ Benefits Amendments of 1989. In 2001, the 500 annual cap on enrollees was increased to 2,500.

The VA’s Inspector General found, in a report issued in DEC 07, that the effect of the statutory cap has been to delay IL services to severely disabled veterans. This delay happens because VA has developed a procedure that holds veterans in a planning and evaluation stage when the statutory cap may be in danger of being exceeded. By removing the cap on the number of enrollees in the program and making it an official objective of the program to improve veterans’ quality of life Akaka believes it will lead to bettering program participant’s chances of rehabilitation and future employment. [Source: SCVA Press Release 15 Apr 08 ++]

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