Sens. Formica, Kelly Urge Lawmakers to Remove Barriers to Public Assistance for Veterans

March 4, 2020


February 28, 2020

HARTFORD – At a public hearing at the State Capitol on Thursday February 27, State Senator Paul Formica (R-East Lyme) and State Senator Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford) urged lawmakers to support a proposed bill to remove barriers to public assistance programs for Connecticut veterans.

Senator Kelly, ranking member of the Aging Committee, and Senator Formica, ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, testified together before the General Assembly’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in support of Senate Bill 220 An Act Expanding Certain Veterans’ Eligibility for Public Assistance Programs.

The proposed bill would exclude all veterans’ pension benefits from income when determining eligibility for public assistance programs.  The senators are advocating for the bill to specifically address an issue regarding Aid and Attendance benefits in which the process to qualify for assistance has led to people becoming ineligible for the very program they sought help from in the first place. Aid and Attendance benefits help veterans pay for the assistance they may need in everyday functioning such as eating, bathing, dressing, and medication management.

“Our veterans and their loved ones have sacrificed so much to serve our country, defend our freedoms and protect our way of life. What they earned in benefits from their time in service should not be counted against them or prevent them from obtaining assistance when they are in need,” said Sen. Kelly, “It is not right that the process required for a veteran to attain this beneficial assistance ends up resulting in them becoming ineligible for the very care they sought in the first place.”

Sen. Formica said, “Veterans are strong. They understand hardship and resiliency. Their experiences also can put them more at risk for future hardship. Homelessness, mental health issues, and obstacles in finding a role in the civilian workforce are serious problems amongst veterans that could lead to veterans falling on hard times.  If a veteran and their family find themselves struggling financially to pay for something like fuel or to obtain needed medical care, they should not be excluded from eligibility from the existing state assistance programs simply because their veterans’ benefits are counted as income. The benefits veterans do get as a result of their selfless service should never become a barrier to assistance when a veteran is struggling.”

Kelly and Formica explained that Aid and Attendance benefits have been exempted from consideration for public assistance benefits in recent years. However, in order to qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits, a veteran must first apply for veterans’ pension benefits. In some cases, the veterans’ pension, which is currently counted as income, then makes the applicant ineligible for public assistance benefits despite the fact that the Aid and Attendance benefits are not considered a counted resource.

Photo attached: Senator Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford) and Senator Paul Formica (R-East Lyme) testify together before the General Assembly’s Veterans’ Affairs Committee on February 27 in favor of a bill to remove barriers to public assistance programs for veterans.