Iowa Legislature Unanimously Passes Bill to Protect Veterans’ Disability Compensation from Attachment

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by Jere Beery

Today Iowa State Legislators unanimously approved a Bill that will enhance Federal statutes designed to protect veterans’ disability compensation from attachment in divorce settlements.

Veterans’ service-connected disability compensation is intended to financially compensate a military veteran disabled in the line of duty. This compensation is not an asset, or property, and should not be used to calculate a veteran’s net worth. Disability compensation is awarded to a veteran that has lost some/all physical or mental ability to work, or maintain a daily routine. Veteran’s disability compensation is tax exempt and not classified as ‘income’ by the IRS.

VA disability compensation is non-transferable and cannot be awarded to a third party under any legal process whatsoever. Even after the veteran has deposited these funds into their personal bank account they are federally protected from attachment or seizure. Disability compensation belongs solely to the disabled veteran that has suffered the disability.

USC, Title 38, Section 5301 reads in part; Payments of benefits due or to become due under any law administered by the Secretary shall not be assignable except to the extent specifically authorized by law, and such payments made to, or on account of, a beneficiary shall be exempt from taxation, shall be exempt from the claim of creditors, and shall not be liable to attachment, levy, or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process whatever, either before or after receipt by the beneficiary.

     

Although United States Code, Title 38, Section 5301 is very clear in its wording and intent, civil court judges nationwide have routinely ignored the U.S. Code and calculated veterans’ disability compensation into divorce settlements as a divisible asset.

The Iowa effort was spearheaded by U.S. Army veteran Jerry Bohr of Ossian, Iowa. Bohr is Operation Firing For Effect Director of Operations for the state of Iowa. He is also employed as a service officer for the Iowa State Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition, Jerry Bohr is a member of the 5301 Club, a grassroots group devoted to the protection of disability benefits from third party awards in civil courts. To say Jerry Bohr is well versed in veterans’ affairs is an understatement.





Operation Firing For Effect is currently monitoring 38 individual divorce cases nationwide in which veterans’ disability compensation has been misused as a divisible asset in a divorce settlement. Although United States Code, Title 38, prohibits such attachment of veterans’ benefits by any legal process whatsoever, many civil court judges routinely circumvent the wording and intent of this Federal statute by factoring in veteran’s disability compensation for spousal support, alimony, and child support awards.

In an effort to straighten the Federal statute and stop obvious abuses by civil courts, Jerry Bohr conferred with a number of Iowa State Legislators (to include; Representatives Brian Quirk, John Beard, Mckinnley Bailey, and Senators Mary Jo Wilhelm and Daryl Beall) and explained the problem to them. Bohr’s efforts paid off earlier this week when Representative Brian Quirk authored and introduced a Bill to the state legislature for a vote. Quirk’s Bill was designed to stop this very questionable practice by civil court judges. And today the Iowa General Assembly unanimously passed House Bill 170. Brian Quirk’s Bill was modeled on legislation created by the West Virginia legislature early last year to combat the very same problem.

House File 170 – PASSED

               A BILL FOR

An Act relating to the exclusion of veterans’ disability compensation in calculating property disposition and support obligations.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF IOWA:

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Section 1. Section 252B.7A, Code 2009, is amended by adding the following new subsection:

NEW SUBSECTION. 1A. Disability compensation received by a party from the United States department of veterans’ affairs for service=related injuries shall not be considered income for the purposes of determining a parent’s income under this section.

Sec.2. Section 598.11, Code 2009, is amended by adding the following new subsection:

NEW SUBSECTION. 4. The court shall not consider disability compensation received by a party from the United States department of veterans’ affairs for service-related injuries in determining the amount of temporary support awarded under this section.

Sec.3. Section 598.13, Code 2009, is amended by adding the following new subsection:

NEW SUBSECTION. 3. Disability compensation received by a party from the United States department of veterans’ affairs for service-related injuries shall not be considered income or property for the purposes of disclosing the financial status of such party.

Sec.4. Section 598.21, Code 2009, is amended by adding the following new subsection:

NEW SUBSECTION. 6A. VETERANS’ DISABILITY COMPENSATION. Disability compensation received by a party from the United States department of veterans’ affairs for service-related injuries shall not be considered property for the purposes of this section.

Sec.5. Section 598.21A, Code 2009, is amended by adding the following new subsection:

NEW SUBSECTION. 3. VETERANS’ DISABILITY COMPENSATION. Disability compensation received by a party from the United States department of veterans’ affairs for service-related injuries shall not be considered income for the purposes of this section.

Sec.6. Section 598.21B, subsection 2, paragraph b, Code 2009, is amended by adding the following new subparagraph:

NEW SUBPARAGRAPH.(4)  For purposes of calculating a support obligation under this section, disability compensation received by a party from the United States department of veterans’ affairs for service-related injuries shall not be considered income.

Sec.7. Section 598.21C, Code 2009, is amended by adding the following new subsection:

NEW SUBSECTION. 1A. VETERANS’ DISABILITY COMPENSATION. Changes in the amount of disability compensation received by a party from the United States department of veterans’ affairs for service=related injuries shall not be considered a substantial change in circumstances for the purposes of this section.

                                                        EXPLANATION

This bill excludes from the calculation of property disposition and support obligations under dissolution of marriage and child support determinations, disability compensation received by a party from the United States department of veterans’ affairs for service-related injuries. United States department of veterans’ affairs disability compensation, in general, is a benefit paid to a veteran due to injuries or diseases that were incurred in or aggravated by military service.

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For more information on this issue, visit; http://jerebeery.com/5301%20Club.htm
Jere Beery
OFFE National Public Relations Director
[email protected]  

 

Author Details
Although Jere Beery only served 4 years in the U.S. Navy, he has an impressive military history. Twenty seven months of that service was in the combat waters of Vietnam. His first duty station in 1965 was aboard the USS WESTCHESTER COUNTY, (LST-1167) as a Seaman. The WESTCHESTER COUNTY was involved in many operations within the combat waters of South Vietnam and received many awards and accolades for her service. The WESTCHESTER COUNTY was the recipient of 15 Battle Stars for her 19 years of service. LST-1167 was one of only 3 ships of her type to earn 15 Battle Stars (out of over 1200 LSTs built since before WWII). Beery’s second duty station in 1967 was with the legendary PBRs of the Brown Water Navy. As a volunteer, Beery saw combat on a fairly routine basis with this elite group and their high speed patrol craft. On March 1, 1968, Beery’s patrol was ambushed by a sizeable force of NVA and Viet Cong. The boat Beery was aboard took two direct RPG hits to her starboard side badly wounding four members of the boat’s crew. Seaman Beery was the most severely wounded and not expected to live. The first RPG had exploded right where Beery was standing as he manned his 50 caliber machine gun. To this day, Beery contributes his survival to the live-saving actions of his patrol officer, LT. RICHARD GODBEHERE and his other crew members. Beery spent the next year and a half hospitalized and recovering from his wounds. THE GODBEHERE PATROL On November 1, 1968, while Jere Beery was recuperating at NAS Hospital, Jacksonville, Florida, USS WESTCHESTER COUNTY was attacked on the My Tho river. At 03:22 in the morning two very large mines were detonated on the ship’s starboard side. 25 men were killed, 17 were ship’s crew. Several of the men killed that morning were friends and former shipmates of Beery’s. This incident has gone down in history as the greatest loss of life by the U.S. Navy in a single attack during the entire Vietnam War. USS WESTCHESTER COUNTY In mid-1969, Jere Beery was medically retired from the Navy. His service record reflects 1 Bronze Star, 3 Purple Hearts, and 5 military campaigns in Vietnam. Beery was also rated totally and permanently disabled by the Veterans Administration. Over the years since Vietnam, Jere Beery has attempted to do some things many thought impossible for someone with physical injuries such as his. During the early 80s, Jere Beery, as a member of the Screen Actors Guild pursued a brief career in the motion picture business as an actor. Beery landed a few small parts in a number of movies and television programs. On several occasions, to the amazement of many, Beery even executed his own stunts. In the 1986, Jere Beery gave up his career in the movies to crusade for his fellow veterans. Since that time, veteran’s rights advocate Jere Beery has been a noted driving force in the Veteran’s Rights Movement and effort to improve services for our veterans. Beery’s efforts have been extremely well documents and many articles have been written about his quest. A few of these articles can be found on this page. You can also type the words “Jere Beery” into any search engine to find out more about Beery’s efforts. www.google.com Jere Beery’s multifaceted story is truly an amazing one. From his survival in Vietnam, to risking additional injury executing stunts in the motion pictures, to fighting to protect the benefits earned by our troops, Jere Beery has forged his own trail and continues to amaze and baffle many. – Place and Date of Birth: Orlando, Fl – 03/13/48 – Raised: St. Augustine, Fl – Place & Date Enlistment: Jacksonville, Fl – 05/20/65 – Branch of service: U.S. Navy – Highest Rate/Rank: E4/PO3/Signalman Third Class – Duty Stations: USS WESTCHESTER COUNTY, LST-1167 and TF116, River Patrol Force, River Section – 511, (PBRs), Binh Thuy, RSVN – Date of Discharge: 5/14/69 – Type of Discharge: Honorable, Medically Retired – VA Rating: 100% Totally and Permanently Disabled Military Awards and Medals: – 1 Bronze Star – w/combat “V” Citation – 3 Purple Hearts – (1/5/68, 2/14/68, 3/1/68) – Vietnam Service Medal – w/1 Silver Star – (5 military campaigns in-country, RSVN) – Republic Of Vietnam Campaign Medal – w/1960 device – Combat Action Ribbon – Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon – Presidential Unit Commendation Ribbon – National Defense Medal – Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation – Gallantry Cross Medal Color, w/Palm – Republic Of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation – Civil Actions Medal, First Class Color, w/Palm Military Training: – River Patrol Craft Training, (PBR), Mare Island, CA – Special Weapons Training, Mare Island, CA – J.E.S.T. (Jungle Environmental Survivor Training) – Cubi Point, Philippines – S.E.R.E. (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape Training) – Whidbey Island, Washington State – Vietnamese Language – Mare Island, CA.
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