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Bill impacts school benefits for some veterans' dependents

Nearly a century ago, Texas enacted the Hazelwood Act, which provided Texas veterans or their dependents 150 hours of classes at a qualifying college or university within the state. However, a little-known update to the law in June 2012 placed age restrictions on the Hazelwood Act and the accompanying veterans' benefits.

A representative for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board observed that the Hazelwood Legacy Act enacted a maximum age requirement for any students who plan to attend school of 25 years. Older students would not qualify under the new restrictions.

However, according to the woman who introduced the legislation, there was no age restriction for benefits for dependents of those killed in action or of veterans who were 100 percent disabled. She never intended for the legislation to have an age restriction.

A corrected version of the bill that removed the age limits was in the process of going through the Texas House. In the meantime, the maximum age limit for the benefits began in 2012, and those who were over the age of 25 on the first day of the semester unfortunately do not qualify.

For affected dependents, some attended school believing they would receive the benefits. They could be stuck paying tuition until the legislature corrects the error. Some might decide to delay their education until the new bill goes into effect.

As seen by the passage of laws that changed the implementation of the Hazelwood Act, veteran's benefits can change from time to time. Those negatively affected might be able to benefit from the counsel of an attorney who focuses on elder law before they attempt to use veteran's benefits.

Source: kuhf fm news, "Small Legislative Error Proves Costly For Some Veterans' Dependents", Florian Martin, May 13, 2013

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