Tue, Jan 24, 2023 10:15 AM
By Lauren Jessop, The Center Square
Disabled veterans in Pennsylvania may soon qualify for more public assistance programs.
The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee unanimously approved legislation last week to exclude benefit payments from income restrictions that often disqualify servicemembers from using public assistance programs.
“My office has heard the stories from veterans struggling to qualify for programs like the property tax/rebate program because of the disability payments they have so rightfully earned while defending our country being counted against them,” said Committee Chairman Doug Mastriano, R-Chambersburg.
He said the bill will fix this problem and extend to surviving spouses who choose not to remarry.
“Its unanimous passage out of committee shows that this is an issue where there is bipartisan agreement,” he said.
Nearly 122,000 disabled veterans live in Pennsylvania, according to data from the Housing Assistance Council. Of the state’s total veteran population – the fourth highest in the country – more than 49,000 live in poverty.
Joan Zlogar Nissley, communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, told The Center Square the agency is reviewing the bill and will continue to monitor it as it makes its way through the General Assembly.
The policy would join other statutory tax exclusions for tax settlements awarded to Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange and property tax exemptions.
According to Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, the Commonwealth is home to over 700,000 veterans.