Recent Press Releases

Thune and Wyden Bill Helps Native American Vets with Disabilities Receive Housing Assistance

Bill Fixes Flaw that Counts Disability/Survivor Benefits as Income and Can Scuttle Housing Assistance Eligibility

April 22, 2010

Washington, D.C. —  Continuing efforts to make sure all of America’s veterans are taken care of when they return from combat U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Thune (R- SD) introduced legislation that will correct a flaw in current law that excludes some disabled Native American Veterans from housing assistance programs. The Indian Veterans Housing Opportunity Act of 2010 will discontinue the counting of disability compensation as income, a practice that often pushes disabled Native American Veterans above the income threshold for housing assistance.

“Native Americans have the highest record of serving in the military per capita. Soldiers who have become disabled while in service to our country have already paid an extremely high price, and to be essentially punished by a housing assistance program is unacceptable and must be fixed immediately,” said Thune. “It is with great respect and gratitude to our veterans that I support this bipartisan legislation, and I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move it through the Senate quickly.”

“Members of the Native American community have been injured and killed fighting for this country and to have their disability compensation or survivor benefits keep them or their families from the housing assistance they need is intolerable,” Wyden said. “This bill will fix the flaw in the system to make sure those who are in most need of assistance can get it.”

Under the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) of 1996, disability and survivor benefits for veterans are counted as income even though they are not counted as such by the Internal Revenue Service. This added income often means veterans exceed the income threshold for housing assistance, making them “too wealthy” to be eligible. The Indian Veterans Housing Opportunity Act of 2010 will fix that flaw in the NAHASDA in order to ensure that Native American veterans are not unfairly penalized for their disability.