HARTFORD - State Sen. Kevin Kelly (R-21) and state Sen. Paul Formica (R-20) urged lawmakers at a public hearing at the state Capitol Feb. 27 to support a proposed bill to remove barriers to public assistance programs for Connecticut veterans.

Kelly, ranking member of the Aging Committee, and Formica, ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, testified together before the General Assembly’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in support of Senate Bill 220 An Act Expanding Certain Veterans’ Eligibility for Public Assistance Programs.

The proposed bill would exclude all veterans’ pension benefits from income when determining eligibility for public assistance programs. The senators are advocating for the bill to specifically address an issue regarding Aid and Attendance benefits in which the process to qualify for assistance has led to people becoming ineligible for the very program they sought help from in the first place, they said.

Aid and Attendance benefits help veterans pay for the assistance they may need in everyday functioning such as eating, bathing, dressing, and medication management, according to the senators.

“Our veterans and their loved ones have sacrificed so much to serve our country, defend our freedoms and protect our way of life,” said Kelly. “What they earned in benefits from their time in service should not be counted against them or prevent them from obtaining assistance when they are in need.

“It is not right that the process required for a veteran to attain this beneficial assistance ends up resulting in them becoming ineligible for the very care they sought in the first place,” added Kelly.

Kelly and Formica testified that Aid and Attendance benefits have been exempted from consideration for public assistance benefits in recent years. However, in order to qualify for these benefits, a veteran must first apply for veterans’ pension benefits.

In some cases, Kelly said the veterans’ pension, which is currently counted as income, then makes the applicant ineligible for public assistance benefits despite the fact that the Aid and Attendance benefits are not considered a counted resource.