Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Justice for Vets Error in Law Overdue for Legislative Fix

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Justice for Vets Error in Law Overdue for Legislative Fix

Article excerpt

Joe Gluvna of Penn Hills had 21 years in the military before he retired with two honorable discharges to his name.He's 69 and, while he hopes to live a lot longer, he has decided one thing about his death: He does not want his casket draped with the American flag.

"I have no respect for the American government," he said.

His bitterness is frustration with a counter-intuitive federal law that coordinates two U.S. military programs: veterans pensions and veterans disability compensation.

Mr. Gluvna is entitled to both: the first, for his military service; the second, because of service-related hearing loss.

His problem is this: The dollar amount of his monthly pension, which he began collecting in 2009, is reduced dollar-for-dollar by the amount of his monthly disability payment, which he had begun collecting in 2002.

He is not alone. There are thousands like him. Many retired veterans who collect a pension and who also collect a disability payment will see the amount of their pension offset by the amount of the disability payment.

We are incredulous.

So are many U.S. legislators.

"It's a crazy situation but it's true," said Matt Dinkel, a spokesman for Rep. Mike Doyle, a Forest Hills Democrat who represents Mr. Gluvna.

Unless a veteran's level of disability reaches a certain rating (and there's lots of paper-pushing involved in making that numeric determination), the veteran's pension will be offset by his disability payment. As is it with any government program, there are exceptions. But this depiction of the "concurrent receipt" law is the general rule.

Mr. Doyle and others in the House on both sides of the aisle have been trying for decades to get changes. In fact, House Bill 303 - the "Retired Pay Restoration Act" - was first introduced in 1987 and has been reintroduced under the same name every two years since. …

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