Rep. Austin Scott Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Ensure Combat Disabled Veterans Aren’t Penalized for Active Engagement in the Workforce

May 21, 2021
Press Release
Legislation incentivizes employment, promotions, and career advancement without fear of losing disability benefits earned through service to the nation.

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08) released the below statement upon introducing bipartisan legislation this week aimed at better supporting combat disabled servicemembers and their ability to participate in the workforce. The Purple Heart Freedom to Work Act (H.R. 3443) would ensure combat disabled veterans do not lose their Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) in cases when earned income exceeds $1,310 per month.

“Currently, our combat disabled veterans who make more than $1,310 per month risk losing their SSDI benefits. This is completely unacceptable. My bill, the Purple Heart Freedom to Work Act, would raise this low threshold to $2,190, the maximum statutorily-allowed level,” said Rep. Scott. “We should not make our combat disabled veterans choose between active engagement in the workforce or keeping their SSDI benefits. This legislation will allow them to continue to excel as valuable members of their communities and workforce, without being penalized for experiencing success.”

Combat disabled veterans who earn an income in excess of $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 following groups: Military Order of the Purple Heart, Blind Veterans Association, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Military Veterans Advocacy, and the Fleet Reserve Association.

Original cosponsors of H.R. 3443 include U.S. Representatives Sanford Bishop (D-GA-02), Mike Turner (R-OH-10), Andy Kim (D-NJ-03), Rick Allen (R-GA-12), Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-04), Chris Stewart (R-UT-02), Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ-02), Richard Hudson (R-NC-08), Tom Rice (R-SC-07), Trent Kelly (R-MS-01), Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10), Van Taylor (R-TX-03), Conor Lamb (D-PA-17), Scott Franklin (R-FL-15), Don Bacon (R-NE-02), Louie Gohmert (R-TX-01), Vern Buchanan (R-FL-16), Jody Hice (R-GA-10), Ralph Norman (R-SC-05), Steven Palazzo (R-MS-04), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05), and Michael Waltz (R-FL-06).