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1 shares to the children of the deceased veteran at the follow
“(4) More than three children, $200 plus $39 for
SEC. 4. (a) Subsection (a) of section 414 of title 38,
9 United States Code, is amended by striking out “$55” and
10 inserting in lieu thereof "$6+”.
(b) Subsection (b) of section 414 of such title is
12 amended by striking out “$92” and inserting in lieu thereof
14 (c) Subsection (c) of section 414 of such title is 15 amended by striking out "$47" and inserting in lieu thereof
SEC. 5. Section 322 (b) of title 38, United States Code,
19 “(b) The monthly rate of death compensation payable 20 to a widow or dependent parent under subsection (a) of this 21 section shall be increased by $64 if the payee is (1) a 22 patient in a nursing home or (2) helpless or blind, or so 23 nearly helpless or blind as to need or require the regular 24 aid and attendance of another person.”
SEC. 6. (a) Section 312 of title 38, United States Code,
1 is amended by striking out "equal” and all that follows
down through the end thereof and inserting in lieu thereof
3 “those specified in section 322 of this title”.
(c) The table of sections at the beginning of subchap
6 ter V of chapter 11 of title 38, United States Code, is
7 amended by striking out the following:
“343. Conditions under which wartime rates are payable.”
SEC. 7. Section 410 (a) of title 38, United States Code,
“(a) The Administrator shall pay dependency and
11 indemnity compensation to the widow, children, and par12 ents of any veteran who dies after December 31, 1956, and
“(1) dies from a service-connected or compensable
“(2) was discharged or retired for a service-con
nected disability permanent and total in nature and at
the time of his death was in receipt of or entitled to
permanent and total in nature; or
" (3) was at the time of his death in receipt of or entitled to receive compensation for a service-connected
disability permanent and total in nature and had been
1 in receipt of or entitled to receive such compensation 2 for a period of twenty years or more. 3 Notwithstanding the foregoing, where death occurs as a re4 sult of accidental causes having no relationship to the service5 connected disability, this subsection (a) shall not apply. 6 The standards and criteria for determining whether or not 7 a disability is service connected shall be those applicable 8 under chapter 11 of this title.” 9 SEC. 8. This Act shall take effect on May 1, 1974.
[From the Congressional Record, Feb. 27, 1974) SURVIVORS DEPENDENCY AND INDEMNITY COMPENSATION ACT OF 1974
Mr. HARTKE. Mr. President, today I introduce for myself and for all the members of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs which I am privileged to chair, S. 3072, the Survivors Dependency Act of 1974. This bill would amend title 38, United States Code, to increase the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation—DIC—paid to widows of veterans who died of service-connected conditions. S. 3072 would also make other significant improvements to the DIC program. I have recently conferred with the distinguished and hard-working chairman of our Subcommittee on Compensation and Pensions (Mr. TALMADGE), and am pleased to announce that this bill will be considered in hearings, scheduled for March 13, 2 weeks from today. I am confident, as he has in the past, that Senator TALMADGE will move quickly to consider this legisation and report it at the earliest possible moment to the full Senate for consideration.
Currently, approximately 375,000 widows are in receipt of DIC survivor benefits. These rolls have been swelled in recent years by the addition of 49,000 widows of Vietnam era veterans who have died of service-connected conditions. The following chart indicates the number of widows of veterans who died of service-connected conditions by periods of service:
Survivor benefits for widows were last increased in Public Law 92–197, effective January 1, 1972, which provided a 10-percent increase in rates. Since that time inflation has taken larger and larger bites out of the fixed income that these widows receive and depend upon. As of January 31 this year, the cost of living has increased 13.4 percent since the last DIC increase as indicated in the following table showing changes in the Consumer Price Index:
TABLE 2.-U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS-CONSUMER PRICE INDEX
Mr. President, the bill I introduce today would increase DIC benefits by 16 percent which would take into account inflation which has occurred as of January 31 of this year and would further project anticipated continuing inflationary growth. The bill before you contemplates an effective date of May 1 of this year. I am hopeful that we will be able to enact this measure within that time frame so that there will be no need for further reexamination of the rate increases.
Mr. President, the following table indicates the present DIC rates payable to widows and those proposed in the Survivors Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Act of 1974:
The fiscal 1975 budget for widows on DIC recently submitted by the President is currently projected at $160 million. Unfortunately no provision was made for cost of living increases. The cost of living increases provided for in the Survivors Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Act of 1974 will provide $96 million in additional benefits for widows in the first full fiscal year.
Mr. President, the Survivors Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Act of 1974 would also liberalize the eligibility for payment of DIC to certain survivors of disabled veterans. Currently survivors are entitled to DIC payments if it can be established that the veteran died as a direct result of a service-connected disability. The bill before you today would authorize DIC for a survivor of any veteran released from the service with a disability permanent and total in nature. The bill provides that survivors of an eligible veteran whose subsequent release from active duty developed a service-connected disability permanent and total in nature would also be eligible for DIC benefits if the veteran had that rating for at least 20 years prior to his death.
I believe this provision will go a long way to resolve several inequities in the present law. First, it has been a continuing complaint of totally disabled veterans and their families that their disability is not taken fully into account when they die of the substantial impact that their service-connected disability may have as a contributing factor to their death as the result of a disease or disfunction not of service-connected origin. Presently VA regulations provide that a service-connected condition must be a contributory factor either substantially or materially. No consideration is given to the fact that severe and permanent diseases and injuries are proven to severely shorten the life expectancy of those veterans.
A second effect of this proposed amendment would be to assure that survivors will not be denied the economic support which should be available to them because of the service-connected nature of the disability of the deceased veteran. Assured income will continue for those survivors and provide peace of mind to locally disabled veterans during their lifetime that their widows will be cared for. Third, it is my strong belief that all veterans who have suffered such a catastrophic disability as to be rated total and permanent, deserve to be given the benefit of any doubt as to whether the cause of their death was service-connected in nature. These veterans have endured life with a diminished earning power and with much lower monetary expectations than would have been possible had they not been injured in the service of their country. Their survivors deserve our compassion.
Fourth, it should be recognized that catastrophic disabilities cannot be isolated in the body to one organ or limb or particular body disfunction, but rather affect all systems in the body. As such, I believe this provision which statutorily gives the “benefit of doubt" is warranted.