SPOKANE -- The deadline for democrats and republicans to reach a budget agreement before the government closes its doors is just hours away. If a shutdown happens, it is expected to affect veterans. The V.A. already has a major backlog of claims. Many fear that backlog would grow even more.
The big question is how much of an impact a government shutdown would have on veterans and the benefits they receive. More than 400,000 veterans saw their disability benefits and pension claims delayed when the government shut down in 1995. Many are fearful that will happen again if an agreement can not be made in Washington, D.C.
"It's scary for me thinking of young people who live paycheck to paycheck. What are they going to do and what will happen with their house payment?" wondered Becky Penman who is the daughter of a veteran.
Because the V.A. has advanced appropriations, health services are not expected to be affected by a shutdown. Any benefits that veterans are receiving could be delayed including disability benefits.
When a veteran makes a claim for a benefit, it takes about 190 days on average for that veteran to get a response back. If the government shuts down, that 190 day time frame will likely grow. That would leave veterans from across the country waiting for their claims to go through.
Experts said the magnitude of impact on veteran's benefits a government shutdown would have all depends on how long the government is not in business. The longer its doors are shut the longer veterans may have to wait to have a benefit claim go through.