The Veterans Affairs Department warned Saturday that an extended government shutdown could result in a cutoff of veterans’ benefits checks by the end of October.
In a sharp change from what the VA was saying days earlier, officials said a prolonged shutdown would hurt the 3.4 million veterans receiving disability compensation, plus survivors and veterans expecting GI Bill living stipends.
“The administration strongly believes that a lapse in appropriations should not occur,” the VA said in a statement. “There is enough time for Congress to prevent a lapse in appropriations, and the administration is willing to work with Congress to enact a short-term continuing resolution to fund critical Government operations and allow Congress the time to complete the full year 2014 appropriations.”
“In the event of a prolonged shutdown, VA will continue to review and update its plan in conjunction with the applicable legal requirements and circumstances,” the statement says.
Earlier, the VA had stated that benefits checks would continue under a government shutdown but that claims processing could be delayed. Now, VA officials said claims processors will be exempted from the shutdown, so they’ll continue to process applications and pending claims.”
“However, those benefits are provided through appropriated mandatory funding, and that funding will run out by late October. At that point VA will be unable to make any payment,” the new statement says.