Bradley has taken a leading role in pro bono efforts to enact bipartisan legislation to provide greater protection for disabled veterans in financial distress. Last week, those efforts took a significant step forward with the introduction in the U.S. Senate of the Honoring American Veterans in Extreme Need (HAVEN) Act (S. 679).
Bradley partner Jay Bender has been working for over two years to educate the public and D.C. lawmakers about the unfair treatment of veterans’ disability benefits under U.S. bankruptcy laws and to get those laws changed. Mr. Bender was involved in the drafting of the original HAVEN Act bill back in 2017, and has worked the past year with the American Bankruptcy Institute’s Task Force on Veterans and Service Members Affairs to generate bipartisan Congressional support for the legislation. Through his and the Task Force’s efforts, the HAVEN Act was introduced in the Senate on March 6, 2019, by its lead sponsors, Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and John Cornyn (R-TX), with the support of 18 additional co-sponsors – nine Democrats and nine Republicans.
The HAVEN Act will protect the economic security and well-being of veterans and their families who rely on disability benefits and experience financial hardship. Under current bankruptcy law, veterans’ disability benefits are included as part of their disposable income – even though comparable Social Security disability benefits are not. The disparate treatment of veterans’ disability benefits limits financially distressed disabled veterans’ access to bankruptcy relief and makes it more difficult for them to obtain a financial fresh start.
“We need to make sure that our disabled veterans, who have given so much for our country, are treated fairly under our bankruptcy laws and can obtain the relief they need when they fall on hard times,” said Mr. Bender, a partner in Bradley’s Bankruptcy and Restructuring Practice Group and a co-chair of the ABI’s Task Force. “While no one wants to file for bankruptcy, bankruptcy offers those in need an opportunity to get a fresh start, and no one is more deserving of a fresh start than a disabled vet in financial distress. We owe it to them and their loved ones to make sure they have fair access to the bankruptcy courts if and when needed. I thank Senators Baldwin and Cornyn for their support of the HAVEN Act and their concern for disabled veterans and their families.”
In addition to Mr. Bender, David Stewart, the head of Bradley’s Governmental Affairs Practice Group, worked closely with Mr. Bender in moving the legislation forward.
“Bradley is proud to be associated with the HAVEN Act and the relief it promises to our country’s disabled veterans. We can think of no better pro bono service than to advocate for the interests of American veterans. Jay Bender saw a problem in the law and went to solve it. Bradley looks forward to the HAVEN Act’s passage and to the tremendous difference that it will make in the lives of financially distressed disabled veterans and their families,” said Bradley Chairman of the Board and Managing Partner Jonathan M. Skeeters.