The White House announced a proposed budget of $125 billion for the VA next year. While the budget allots enough money for different areas, it focuses on three issues critical to veterans:
- Expanding health care to a record number of veterans;
- Reducing the number of homeless veterans; and
- Processing an increased flow of new disability compensation claims.
The goal of being able to process the deluge of new disability claims the VA expects will require 4,000 additional claims processors which comes at the expense of a 27% funding increase from the 2010 level.
The VA is expecting approximately 1,319,000 claims in 2011, the increase due mostly because of the expanded list of illnesses the VA now recognizes as qualifying for disability benefits due to Agent Orange exposure.
In 2009, the post-9/11 GI Bill was implemented and since then, over $1.7 billion GI bill benefits have been paid. This number will only continue to grow. As part of this proposed budget, $44 million is to be used to complete an automated system to process these applications.
The proposed budget allots $4.2 billion to reduce and prevent homelessness, which is consistent with the VA’s goal of eliminating homelessness among veterans. This money is divided into three categories:
- Core medical services;
- Specific homeless programs and expanded medical care; and
- Expanded homeless initiatives.
In addressing one of the most important issues facing veterans today, the proposed budget allots $5.2 billion for mental health services; this is an increase of $410 million dollars from current spending. This money will be used to:
- Expand inpatient, residential, and outpatient mental health services;
- Make mental health services part of both primary and specialty care;
- Expand programs focusing on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI);
- Continue the VA’s suicide prevention program; and
- Expand programs centering on the treatment of depression, substance abuse, and other mental health problems.
This budget will also work towards delivering health care to veterans living in more rural areas, meeting specific health care requirements for women, ensuring the VA can provide health care to every veteran in need of it, and construction of new VA medical facilities.
Congress has yet to approve this budget, but is expected to do so. should this happen, the VA will be in a very good position to meet its stated goals for the year.
Learn more about the White House proposed 2011 VA budget.
If you are a veteran who has been denied disability compensation by the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. We can appeal your rating decision and fight for your rights. You are entitled to certain programs and benefits based upon your VA rating decision so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.