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Net worth removed for medical eligibility

By removing net worth, it is anticipated that many lower-income veterans will gain access to VA medical care. Generally, there are three ways to be able to gain access to VA medical care:

You are service-connected or on VA pension.

You are in a special category such as an in-country Vietnam veteran.

You meet the net-income thresholds as established by the VA.

I recently heard and confirmed that Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 under funds the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) by approximately $4.5 million. Right now, if nothing changes, the Veterans Homes side of MDVA will have an operating budget shortfall of approximately $3.5 million, with the remaining $1 million shortfall coming from other veterans support programs and services. If this stands, I have heard that 30 personnel who work at the current Veterans Homes could lose their jobs.

Two other things I discovered when looking into the budget is that in the proposed Governor’s Supplemental Budget (think $1.86 billion budget surplus) there are zero items related to veterans issues and that the entire Veterans Affairs budget over the two-year biennium comes to less than half a percent (.5 percent) of the total overall budget ($40-plus billion).

You might have heard that the VA is looking at rewriting their disability compensation rating schedules. It has been a long time since the VA has done this. For those who are currently service-connected, the word is regardless of the changes that are made, it will not affect current ratings.

Don’t forget there is affordable dental insurance out there for eligible veterans. Any veteran currently enrolled in the VA health care system is able to obtain dental coverage through Delta Dental or Metlife regardless of service-connected disability ratings or enrollment priority group. Also eligible are spouses and dependent children who are covered under VA’s CHAMPVA program.

With Memorial Day soon to arrive, family members of deceased veterans should know that the state of Minnesota offers Bronze Star Grave Markers to mark the grave site of any veteran buried in the state, where permitted. We have Bronze Star Markers available in our office for pick-up.

Don’t forget, if you have any questions regarding veterans’ benefits please call the County Veterans Service Office at (218) 333-4177/4178.

Scotty Allison is the Beltrami County Veterans Service Officer.

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