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Courtney Co-Sponsors Bill to Ensure Purple Heart Veterans Aren’t Penalized for Active Engagement in the Workforce

Submitted by Patrick Cassidy.

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, announced his support for the Purple Heart Freedom to Work Act (H.R. 3443), a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA). The Purple Heart Freedom to Work Act is aimed at better supporting combat disabled servicemembers and their ability to participate in the workforce, and would ensure combat disabled veterans do not lose their Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) in cases when earned income exceeds $1,310 per month.

“Combat disabled veterans aren’t getting a fair deal right now, and I want to thank Congressman Scott for pulling together this bipartisan group to make it right,” said Rep. Courtney. “As it stands now, combat disabled veterans who make more than $1,310 a month are at risk losing 100% of their SSDI benefits. That is patently absurd, and it’s an unacceptable way to treat these veterans who sacrificed for our country. We shouldn’t make our combat disabled veterans choose between a meaningful career, or keeping their SSDI benefits—they deserve better. The Purple Heart Freedom to Work Act would raise the threshold to the maximum statutorily allowed level of $2,190, and would help our vets to keep excelling as valuable members of our community and workforce, without being penalized for success. I’m proud to co-sponsor this bipartisan effort.”

Combat disabled veterans who earn an income more than $1,310 per month lose 100% of their SSDI for being actively engaged in the workforce. This unacceptably low limit deters workforce participation and disincentivizes injured veterans from pursuing jobs, promotions, or working overtime. H.R. 3443 would raise the current monthly disability benefit for combat disabled veterans from $1,310 per month to $2,190 per month, the statutorily allowed maximum level. Additionally, it would ensure combat disabled veterans do not lose their SSDI benefits in cases when earned income exceeds the new threshold. The bill introduces a 4 to 1 offset, eliminating the SSDI benefits cliff by gradually reducing benefits only after a veteran’s salary rises above $2,190 per month. You can find more information on substantial gainful activity thresholds on the Social Security Administration’s website here.

The Purple Heart Freedom to Work Act is supported by the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Blind Veterans Association, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Military Veterans Advocacy, and the Fleet Reserve Association.

H.R. 3443 was introduced by Rep. Austin Scott, and is co-sponsored by Rep. Joe Courtney, and by Reps. Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Mike Turner (R-OH), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Rick Allen (R-GA), Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), Richard Hudson (R-NC), Tom Rice (R-SC), Trent Kelly (R-MS), Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Van Taylor (R-TX), Conor Lamb (D-PA), Scott Franklin (R-FL), Don Bacon (R-NE), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Jody Hice (R-GA), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Michael Waltz (R-FL).

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