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cluded under the laws above referred to are service pensions payable without reference to service-connected disability or death.
Public, No. 484, Seventy-third Congress, approved June 28, 1934, as amended, provides payment of death compensation at specified rates to the widows and children of any deceased World War veteran (1) who, while receiving or entitled to receive compensation, pension, or retirement pay for 10-percent disability or more presumptively or directly incurred in or aggravated by service in the World War, dies or has died from a disease or disability not service connected, or (2) who was honorably discharged after having served 90 days or more (or who, having served less than 90 days, was discharged for disability incurred in the service in line of duty), who dies or has died from a disease or disability not service connected and at the time of death had a disability directly or presumptively incurred in or aggravated by service in the World War for which compensation would be payable if 10 percent or more in degree.
Public, No. 484, as amended, does not specifically authorize the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs to waive recovery or overpayments made under that act, and the statutes heretofore quoted cannot be construed to permit waiver of recovery of such overpayments.
Payment of compensation under Public, No. 484, as amended, is prohibited to any widow without child, or a child whose annual income exceeds $1,000, or to a widow with child or children whose annual income exceeds $2,500. A considerable number of cases of this character were found wherein claimants who, without fault on their part, had received improper or excessive benefits under Public, No. 484, as amended, were unable to make refund, and would suffer undue hardship if compelled to make restitution. However, under existing law the Committee on Waivers and Forfeitures was, and is, unable to grant any relief. Under similar circumstances, improper, or excessive payments of death compensation made under the World War Veterans' Act, 1924, as amended, as restored by Public, No. 141, Seventy-third Congress, March 28, 1934, or of pension paid under Public, No. 2, Seventy-third Congress, March 20, 1933, or laws restored by Public, No. 269, or death pensions payable on account of service prior to April 21, 1898, could be waived. The inequality and inequity of denying relief in cases of overpayments of compensation under Public, No. 484, as amended, which is granted in cases of overpayments of compensation and pension under the other laws above referred to, is manifest.
The enactment of the proposed bill would remove the now existing inequalities above pointed out, and would also be consistent with the obvious intention of Congress to afford a uniform system of relief for veterans and their dependents from recovery of overpayments of compensation or pension in all cases where absence of fraud on the part of the payee is shown and recovery would be against equity and good conscience, or defeat the purpose of benefits otherwise authorized.
In view of the foregoing, the Veterans' Administration recommends favorable consideration of the bill to your committee.
Advice has been received from the Bureau of the Budget that there would be no objection by that Office to the submission of this report to your committee. Very truly yours,
FRANK T. HINES, Administrator.
REPORT OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION ON H. R. 7977, A BILL TO AMEND THE
WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT, 1924, AS AMENDED
FEBRUARY 29, 1940. Hon. John E. RANKIN, Chairman, Committee on World War Veterans' Legislation,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. RANKIN: Further reference is made to your letter dated January 18, 1940, requesting a report on H. R. 7977, Seventy-sixth Congress, third session, "a bill to amend the World War Veterans' Act, 1924, as amended,” which provides :
“That section 1 of Public Law Numbered 522, Seventy-first Congress, approved July 3, 1930 (U. S. C., 1934 edition, title 38, sec. 426), is hereby amended by striking out the period at the end thereof and adding: ‘unless same is rebutted by other evidence'."
The bill would amend the proviso of section 5 of the World War Veterans' Act, 1924, as amended, which reads:
"Provided, That regulations relating to nature and extent of proofs and evidence shall provide that due regard shall be given to lay or other evidence not of a medical nature.”
It is the policy and practice of the Veterans' Administration under existing laws and regulations to give due consideration to lay and other evidence not of a medical nature and to resolve all reasonable doubts in favor of the claimant.
Section 5 as now enacted requires that “due regard shall be given to lay and other evidence not of a medical nature.” This requirement does not mean that such evidence is not to be evaluated on the basis of all known facts, nor does it prohibit inspection of the surrounding circumstances and the opportunity of a witness to know about the facts to which he may testify. The value of any evidence, whether lay or medical, must be determined upon the basis of all known facts and the giving of “due regard" to any piece of evidence includes consideration of the witness' opportunity to know of the facts to which he testifies and his possible interest in the matter in issue. The addition of the words “unless same is rebutted by other evidence” would not appear to extend or diminish the scope of the “due regard" given to the evidence under existing procedure. Should the bill receive further consideration, it is suggested that it be amended to indicate clearly the intent thereof, in which event the Veterans' Administration will be pleased to furnish a supplemental report covering such changes.
In view of the foregoing, the Veterans' Administration is unable to recommend favorable consideration of the bill.
Advice has been received from the Bureau of the Budget, that there would be no objection by that office to the submission of this report to your committee. Very truly yours,
FRANK T. HINES, Administrator. Whereupon the hearing was closed.
(NOTE.—These are the cost estimates to be inserted in the hearings following the reports of the Veterans' Administration at the conclusion of the hearings.)
ESTIMATES OF COST ON ADDITIONAL BILLS
H. R. 7950: A bill to provide pensions for the dependent widows and orphans
of deceased World War veterans, under similar conditions and in the same amounts, as now provided for the dependent widows and orphans
of deceased veterans of the Spanish-American War. This bill provides for a rate of $30 for the widow, $36 for the widow and one child (with $6 additional for each child), no widow but one child $36 (with $6 for each additional child, total amount to be equally divided). There is no income provision and no limitation as to the total amount payable in each case.
It is estimated that the widows and children of approximately 148,300 deceased World War veterans would be entitled to pension classification as follows: Widows without children, 57,700; widows with children, 67,100; children alone, 23,500. The cost for paying this group would approximate $68,047,000 the first year.
In addition to the cost shown above, the rates in this bill would provide increased pensions in approximately 7,900 cases now being paid under Public, No. 484 as amended at an additional cost of approximately $1,098,000 the first year. There also would be a group of 7,100 service-connected cases entitled to increased compensation at an additional cost of approximately $1,141,000 the first year.
The total cost of paying all cases entitled under this bill would approximate $70,286,000 the first year. However, if it can be assumed that approximately one-half of the new cases would be paid during the first year, the cost would approximate $34,023,090 and the additional cost for cases now on the rolls would approximate $2,239,000, or a total cost for the first year of approximately $36,262,000.
H. R. 7980: A bill to provide pensions for disabled veterans of the World
War, under similar conditions, and in the same amounts, as now provided for as to disabled veterans of the Spanish-American War.
This bill provides for the payment of pensions to veterans of the World War who served 90 days or more and who are suffering from disabilities of a permanent character, regardless of service connection thereof, at the following rates : $20 for one-tenth disabiilty ; $25 for one-fourth disability; $35 for one-half disability; $50 for three-fourths disabiilty; $60 for total disability, and $100 for those requiring the aid and attendance of another person. This bill also provides for the payment of $60 per month for veterans who have attained the age of 65 years.
It is estimated that this bill would affect approximately 969,300 World War veterans at a cost for the first year of approximately $293,045,000. It is estimated that approximately 800,400 new cases would be brought on the rolls where veterans are suffering from one-tenth, one-fourth, one-half, or threefourths disability at a cost of approximately $248,174,000 the first year. In addition, approximately 19,400 veterans who have reached the age of 65 years would be entitled to pension at a cost of $13,985,000.
Increased pension would be provided in approximately 49,000 permanent total non-service-connected cases where the veterans are now entitled to pension at an additional cost of approximately $17,636,000 the first year. There also would be a group of 1,400 veterans 65 years or over now rated permanent total who would receive increased pensions, at an additional cost of approximately $501,000 the first year. Approximately 5,000 of the permanent total cases now entitled to pension would receive an increased rate for aid and attendance at an additional cost of approximately $4,206,000.
Because of the fact that service-connected World War veterans rated from 10 to 19 percent receive less than the rate specified in this bill for one-tenth disability, it is assumed that such veterans would elect to receive pension under this bill and the additional cost for paying this group at the rate of $20 a month would approximate $8,125,000 the first year, affecting approximately 92,800 service-connected cases. In addition, there are approximately 1,300 veterans on the service-connected rolls who have attained the age of 65 years and who are receiving less than $60 a month in compensation payments. If these veterans were paid $60 per month for age 65 years, the additional cost would approximate $418,000 the first year. This cost has not included increased payments in certain service-connected cases where associated diseases not connected with service would make veterans eligible to receive higher payments under this bill, but it is believed that the cost of this group would not be large.
The following is a summary of the figures quoted above:
If it can be assumed that one-half of the new cases coming on the rolls under this bill would apply and be paid the first year and if all of the cases now on the rolls receive the increased rates provided by this bill, the estimated cost is as follows:
Mr. Rice. With the permission of the Chairman, I here insert an article from the January 1940 issue of The Duckboard, the official organ of the Melbourne Branch of the Returned Sailors' and
Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia, giving a résumé of the liberal veteran laws in effect in Australia, as follows:
WAR PENSIONS BILL
Sir Gilbert Dyett's Review
At the request of delegates to the recent Federal Congress of the R. S. S. I. L. A., the Federal President (Sir Gilbert Dyett) has prepared the following statement on activities of the Repatriation Department:
Although 21 years have elapsed since the Great War, new claims by soldiers that disabilities from which they suffer are due to war service, or claims by dependents that soldiers' deaths are attributable to war service are being investigated daily by the Repatriation Commission.
During the last financial year, new grants of war pensions were made to 537 ex-soldiers, 1,252 wives, 4,509 children, and 406 other dependants.
The number of ex-soldiers receiving pensions at June 30, 1930, was 77,151, involving an annual liability of 33,992,833, an average rate of £1/19/9.724 per fortnight for each soldier pensioner.
The dependents, including those of deceased and incapacitated ex-soldiers, numbered 172,142, and these involved an annual liability of £3,688,262, with an average pension of 16/5.776 fortnightly. The total of all classes of war pensioners at June 30, 1939, was 249,293, being a reduction of 7,921 over the figures in the previous year.
Medical treatment and surgical aids and incidental expenses cost over £550,000 during 1938–39; the Soldiers' Children Education Scheme involved an annual expenditure of £116,771, but by far the greatest outlay is in war pensions, and the annual liability stands at £7,681,095. The total expenditure șince the inception of war pensions was £156,417,088, and on general repatriation benefits, excluding land settlement, war gratuities, and war service homes was £24,346,000.
During the past four years various new benefits or extensions of existing benefits have been brought into operation.
(1) Provision for the payment of service pensions to soldiers who: (a) Attain the age of 60 years (55 years in the case of nurses); (b) are per. manently unemployable; or (c) suffer from pulmonary tuberculosis.
(2) Reinstatement of war pensions formerly commuted to lymp sums.
(3) Death rate pensions to dependents of deceased soldiers who die from causes other than war service and who at the time of their death were in receipt of war pensions under the 2nd schedule or under the first eight items of the 5th Schedule.
(4) Increase in the rates of war pensions to children of incapacitated soldiers from 12/- to 15/- per fortnight.
(5) Liberalisation of the conditions governing payment of adequate means of support pensions.
(6) Extension of Soldiers' Children Education Scheme to University courses and earlier contact with potential beneficiaries.
(7) Introduction of the scheme to stabilise war pensions.
(8) Provision for maintenance payments to State institutions in which service pensioners are inmates.
(9) Funeral benefits to Australians who served in Australian ('ontingents during the Boer War in South Africa.
(10) Restoration of Financial Emergency Reductions on living allowances. (11) Several increases in service pension rates and general extension.
(12) Wives married and children born since October 1, 1931, and up to and including July 30, 1938, became entitled to pensions based on the soldier's incapacity.
(13) Granting of superannuation and furlough benefits to the Commission's employees. (The adult male staff comprises almost 100 per cent. returned soldiers.)
(14) Erection of new buildings, such as hospital wards, clinics, nurses' quarters, operating theatres, and administrative offices.
Early in 1938 the Repatriation Commission decided to introduce as a policy the stabilisation of war pensions, and it is pleasing to report that this policy has met with the complete approbation of all returned soldier organisations, as well as that of the individual pensioner.
In all cases in which a soldier's incapacity is considered to have reached a stage where it may be classed as "apparently permanent,” the pension will be stabilised without further medical examination.
The Commission adopted this policy in an endeavour to give the soldier a permanent sense of security by relieving him of future anxiety with regard to his war pension, and of the necessity, and sometimes the inconvenience, of attending for regular review of his war pension.
Cases falling due for review in the ordinary course would be considered, first, from the point of view as to whether they could be stabilised without medical examination of the pensioner. Because of the volume of cases to be considered the work will take some time to complete, but it is being speeded up with a view to completion of all cases within a period of two years from date of commencement of the work. Up to June 30, 1939, the pensions of 51,544 soldiers were stabilised.
There were, on June 30, 1939, 1,749 ex-soldiers undergoing institutional treatment as in-patients, and this number is fairly constant over the years.
In addition, there were 159,847 out-patient attendances for treatment in Au. stralia during the year, which was a decrease of 2,318 as against the previous year. This figure excludes treatments by 814 local medical officers resident in country towns.
Service pensions were introduced almost three years ago to certain ex-soldiers on account of old age and permanent unemployability, or because they suffer from pulmonary tuberculosis unrelated to war service. There are 13,108 receiving benefits under this heading, of whom 7,409 are ex-soldiers and the balance are dependents, and the annual liability stands at £439,552 as at June 30, 1939.
Legal and medical questions confront those in responsible positions from day to. day, and more than half the staff is employed in institutions which are open every hour of the day and every day of the year.
Under the several sections of expenditure mentioned the total cost to the country has been over £180,000,000 and, as previously stated, this excludes war gratuity, land settlement, and war-service homes, and it also disregards the cost of placing and maintaining the fighting forces in the field and all military expenditure. It can be rightfully claimed that Australia has stood by its sons in relation to their war service.