For many veterans, retirement is a distant dream. But even as pennies are pinched for younger veterans who are struggling in a tight, wage restricted job market, proposed changes that may take effect in the upcoming budget sequester may hit them again in their old age. According to a new analysis by AARP, a million veterans in New York, alone, will be $322 million poorer over the next decade if the proposed changes in the Chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) take effect. According to AARP, veterans between the ages of 18 – 24 now face a 20 percent unemployment rate with veterans between 25 – 34 only slightly lower. Decades of flat wages and a dwindling capacity to build wealth means that retirement benefits and social security would together cut $17 billion each year from benefits. Chained CPI adjusts the consumer price index that determines cost of living increases to programs like Social Security.
Although Veterans Affairs is supposed to be exempt from sequestration, not everything will be able to be saved from the axe. Administrative costs, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki told a joint hearing of the House Veterans Affairs and Armed Services committees, would not be exempt. With chronic delays in processing claims, losing even two percent of admin staff might have very real impacts on veterans services.
Stars and Stripes details the many ways that veterans will be effected by the sequester. Although protected (somewhat) from direct cuts, Stars and Stripes says that they will still be hurt. There will be an increase in homeless veterans, more veterans out of work and “tens of thousands of furloughed veteran[s] struggling to make ends meet.” VFW spokesman Joe Davis says, “We still don’t know all the ways veterans might be hurt.”
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