(Watch) Sen. Kelly leads bipartisan push to give veterans financial relief

March 7, 2024

For Immediate Release

Sens. Kelly and Marx call for financial relief for veterans

(Watch the press conference here.)

State Senator Martha Marx (D-New London), Senate Chair of the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, State Senator Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford), and members of the Committee gathered in the Legislative Office Building to call for financial relief for veterans.

The legislators spoke in support of Senate Bill 344, “An Act Concerning Certain Federal Veterans’ Benefits And Income Eligibility Determinations For Certain Public Assistance Programs,” which seeks to not include certain federal veterans’ benefits from income, primarily federal Aid and Attendance pension benefits, when determining individuals’ eligibility for certain public assistance programs.

“Our veterans have served our country, and we owe it to them to provide them as much financial relief as possible,” Sen. Kelly said.  “This simple tweak to state law can have a maximum positive impact on veterans and their families. We hope this common sense legislation reaches the finish line this year.  Let’s get it passed.  Let’s support our veterans.”

“In my work as a nurse, I have cared for many veterans, all of whom made sacrifices for this country,” said Sen. Marx. “I’ve had to watch some of them turn down benefits they are entitled to because they would otherwise lose access to important support programs. This simple change to state statutes would provide veterans and their families with the benefits they’ve earned and deserve without issue. As a legislator who sits on the Aging Committee, legislation is in the works to expand home-based programs, allowing our seniors to age at home. The same benefit should apply to veterans. It’s a goal of the Federal and State administrations and should be a sensible bill helping our veterans.”

Currently, in Connecticut, there is a standard where veterans’ Aid and Attendance pension benefits can be counted as income when they apply for important support programs, including energy assistance and Medicaid. Aid and Attendance benefits are provided to veterans or their survivors who need assistance from others to perform daily activities.

This care is vital and needed, but for veterans and their survivors, its being counted as income can lead to their income exceeding limits barring them from Medicaid and other programs. This can prevent veterans from receiving services they need; in some cases, these veterans will even go without their benefits to retain access to these vital programs. Connecticut is one of just five states crediting these benefits toward income.

Senate Bill 344 seeks to change this by requiring the state Commissioner of Social Services to disregard all federal pension benefits granted to a veteran or their surviving spouse when determining income eligibility for state Medicare savings, medical assistance and energy assistance programs.

The legislation is supported by the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center.  To submit testimony, visit here.

Attached photos:

Sen. Kevin Kelly testifies in favor of pro-veterans legislation at the Veterans’ and Military Affairs Committee’s Mar. 7 public hearing.