HR 3790 and SB 1590: Justice for ALS Veterans Act 2023
On May 11, 2023, House Resolution Bill 3790 (HR 3790), also known as the Justice for ALS Veterans Act, was introduced by Congresspersons Brian Fitzpatrick (R‐PA) and Elissa Slotkin (D‐MI) ensures fairness for veterans living with ALS by eliminating the 8‐year survival criterion for veterans with ALS. Senators Christopher A. Coons (DE), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), and Mike Rounds (SD) have cosponsored a companion bill in the Senate (SB 1590).
This is a fixable injustice for veterans living with ALS who already have little time left with their loved ones.
- Families of veterans who die due to a service‐connected disease that is totally disabling are eligible to receive boosted “Dependency and Indemnity Compensation” (DIC) payments from the Veterans Administration (VA) after their loved one dies.
- To be eligible for this benefit, a veteran must live with a totally disabling service‐connected disease for 8 years. However, life expectancy for a person with ALS ranges from 2‐5 years, post‐diagnosis.
- Therefore, most veterans who have service‐connected ALS will not meet the current criterion for the additional DIC payment.
Veterans living with ALS and their families, many of whom serve admirably as caregivers, should not be penalized because of an ALS diagnosis that offers them less time with their loved ones than the current requirement stipulates. Ensuring this boosted benefit, which equates to around $300 a month for a surviving family, can make a marked difference. Additionally, the legislation requires the VA to study other totally disabling service‐connected diseases where life expectancy is less than the current 8‐year requirement, allowing for more families to receive the benefits they have earned.
“ALS is a brutal disease that affects thousands of Americans each year, including those who have served our nation in uniform,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “I’m proud to join a bipartisan group of colleagues on the Justice for ALS Veterans Act to ensure that families of our veterans receive the benefits they deserve.”
“The spouse or family of a veteran with ALS should never be denied assistance, but that’s precisely what our current policy does,” said Congresswoman Slotkin. “This is a straightforward reform to existing law that will have a tremendous impact on the loved ones of veterans who have been diagnosed with this awful disease. This bill targets ALS cases directly, finally removing a bureaucratic barrier so surviving families may receive the vital benefits and support they deserve.”
“To amend title 38, United States Code, to extend increased dependency and indemnity compensation paid to surviving spouses of veterans who die from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, regardless of how long the veterans had such disease prior to death, and for other purposes”
On November 8, 2023, the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs held a legislative hearing about the Justice for ALS Veterans Act. The session, hosted by the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, discussed the importance of this legislation which ensures that veterans and families who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country, receive benefits they cannot currently receive, through no fault of their own.
ALS Golden West endorses this legislation and asks the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs to consider and swiftly pass HR 3790/SB 1590 to deliver the increased DIC benefits surviving families have earned. The legislation has wide, bipartisan support, including AMVETS, Paralyzed Veterans of America, the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, QTC, Special Operations Association of America, Service Women's Action Network, Military Veterans Advocacy, and other ALS advocacy organizations.
We are grateful to our legislators and passionate ALS advocates who collaborate at all levels - local, state, and federal - to improve awareness and resources for people affected by ALS. This is ALS advocacy in action!