« PreviousContinue »
would be entitled to a special pension based on length and type of service. The rate, not to exceed $150 monthly, would be determined by multiplying $5 times the number of months the veteran served within the continental limits of the United States plus $10 times the the number of months he served outside the United States. Widows of eligible veterans would be entitled to a pension equal to one-half the monthly rate which their husbands would have received. Such a pension, coupled with increased payments for social security and other benefit increases would do much to help these deserving persons live in the comfort and decent surroundings to which they are so justly entitled.
While they were young and able, they gave to their country without hestitation. Today, nearly half a century later, they are old; many are infirm and unemployable. Can we deny them the same measure of unfailing devotion which they gave to us? It is inconceivable to me that this great, free, and prosperous country should turn her back on those who once formed the bulwark of her strength. We must honor their sacrifices now, before it becomes too late. Time is short for many of these patriots. Let us repay our debt to those who fought that their Nation might live by easing their burden and restoring life to their years. As we profited from their sacrifices, so shall we profit from their reward.
Mr. Dorn. Thank you so much Bob. We now will hear the charming lady Member from the State of New York, Congresswoman Edna Kelly. Mrs. Kelly you may proceed. STATEMENT OF HON. EDNA F. KELLY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mrs. KELLY. Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of this committee.
There is no need to review before this committee the obligations which we owe to those who have risked their lives in the defense of freedom by serving in our Armed Forces. We recognize these obligations, not only with thanksgiving in our hearts, but in a more practical way by providing pensions, hospital facilities, and many other benefits to veterans and their families.
My purpose today is to urge you to favorably report my bill, H.R. 4756, or any similar bill which would contain similar provisions to eliminate social security benefits from consideration as income in determining eligibility for veterans' pensions.
Under the present law, a veteran with no dependents does not qualify for a non-service-connected pension if he earns more than $1,800 per year. If he earns up to $600 per year, he is entitled to $100 per month pension; if he earns between $601 and $1,200 per year, he is entitled to $75 per month; and to $43 per month if he earns $1,201 to $1,800 per year.
Since the present law considers social security as income, a veteran with no dependents who receives social security benefits of $1,220.40 per year ($101.70 per month) and has no other income would receive from a veterans' pension of only $43 per month or $516 per year.
If the test for eligibility for non-service-connected veterans' pensions is to be based on need, then I respectfully submit that we are not accomplishing our purpose if we limit a veteran who fits my example to total pension and social security benefits of some $33 per week. We all know that it is not possible to maintain one's self in this era of high living costs on such an amount.
Social security benefits are not gifts or grants from our Government. These benefits are insurance which is paid for during productive years by employers and employees. I see no reason to consider these benefits as income in determining eligibility for veterans' pensions. The present system seems to give with one hand but take away with the other.
I therefore, urge that this committee give favorable consideration of my bill H.R. 4756 and eliminate social security benefits from consideration as income for determining eligibility for veterans' pensions.
Mr. DORN. Thank you so much for coming in, Mrs. Kelly. If there are no questions, we will now hear the Honorable Tim Lee Carter from Kentucky. Congressman, you go right ahead.
STATEMENT OF HON. TIM LEE CARTER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF KENTUCKY
Mr. CARTER. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I appreciate the invitation extended to me to appear before the committee this morning and to submit a statement in support of legislation on the subject of pensions and added benefits for Vietnam veterans.
As I have two pension bills before the committee, I should like to offer testimony in support of them and request that they be given careful consideration. They are:
H.R. 356, a bill to increase the rates of pension payable to our approximately 15,000 living Spanish War veterans, and
H.R. 6109, a bill to increase the rates of pension payable to veterans of later wars, including Vietnam veterans, and their survivors, and to provide additional readjustment assistance for veterans of service after January 31, 1955.
H.R. 356 would increase from $101.59 to $120 the regular monthly rate of pension payable to Spanish War veterans, and increase from $135.45 to $200 per month the rate of pension payable for aid and attendance. For those veterans who served more than 70 but less than 90 days, the regular monthly rate of pension would be increased to $88.04 and the aid and attendance rate would be increased to $110 per month.
My other bill, H.R. 6109, cited as the “Veterans' Pension and Readjustment Assistance Act of 1967”, would provide pension increases for Veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean conflict, and would extend pension benefits to veterans of service after January 31, 1955, including veterans of the Vietnam war. In addition, my
bill would further liberalize widows' eligibility requirements for death pension benefits; provide pension increases for widows of Spanish War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean conflict veterans; provide pension increases for children of deceased veterans of these wars, and provide for an aid and attendance allowance for eligible widows of veterans of all periods of war.
My bill would also provide therapeutic and rehabilitative devices for any veteran in receipt of pension based on need for aid and attendance as well as drugs and medicines prescribed by a duly licensed physician as specific therapy in the treatment of any illness or injury suffered by such veteran. And it would provide financial assistance toward the purchase of specially equipped automobiles for certain disabled veterans of service after January 31, 1955, as well as hospital, domiciliary, and medical care for veterans of this period of service. Of course, my bill would also provide statutory awards for certain specific disabilities in addition to other compensation payable, and a burial allowance for veterans of service after January 31, 1955.
In view of the present high cost of living and the fact that many of our disabled veterans and their dependents as well as survivors of deceased veterans have no other source of income, except perhaps for a small social secuirty benefit, I feel that legislation of this kind is urgently needed and should be enacted into law promptly. Therefore, I respectfully request the committee to give due and thoughtful consideration to the two bills I have pending before this body.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I thank you for your kind attention and courtesies.
Mr. Dorn. Thank you, Mr. Carter. We will now hear from Congressman John Flynt of the State of Georgia. Congressman Flynt, you may proceed.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN J. FLYNT, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF GEORGIA Mr. Flynt. Mr. Chairman, I respectfully request that you and the Committee on Veterans Affairs favorably consider H.R. 581, a bill to amend title 38 of the United States Code with respect to the payment of certain benefits under that title. Its language is simple and clear and has no hidden meaning nor is it subject to ambiguity. It simply seeks to correct an inequity presently imposed by the present language of the statute.
Under the provisions of title 38, a person's entitlement to monetary benefits ceases as of the first day of the month in which death occurs.
This literally means that if a person entitled to monetary benefits under title 38 is declared dead 1 second before midnight on the last day of the month, no payment is made for that month. This deprives survivors, or responsible for payments of the debts of the deceased, of that monetary benefits which as accrued to the deceased but is suddenly canceled, nunc pro tunc, by death.
This often results in severe hardship on those who have incurred or must incur indebtedness on behalf of the deceased.
The purpose of this bill is to recognize the day-by-day accrual of monetary benefits and prevent the reversion of the portion of these benefits to which the deceased veteran was entitled.
The correctness and fairness of the proposal contained in H.R. 581 is exemplified by the most probable fact that our courts would have insured this day-by-day accrual had title 38 been silent on this point.
Mr. Dorn. Thank you so much, Mr. Flynt. The next witness will be the Honorable Sam Stratton of New York. Congressman Stratton, you may proceed.
STATEMENT OF HON. SAMUEL S. STRATTON, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. STRATTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to testify in behalf of my bill, H.R. 1295, to increase the percentage of social security benefits not considered when determining the amount of veterans' pensions.
As the committee members know, this amount was increased last year in anticipation of an increase in social security benefits. When the legislation increasing social security benefits was delayed many veterans received an increase in pensions at the time your committee's legislation became effective. In any case, this increase was lost when the social security increase finally became effective.
I am sure this committee and Congress as a whole intends that any increase in social security is passed along to those who rely on these pensions.
Those living on social security and veterans pensions face serious financial problems as a result of the ever-increasing cost of living. Any increase in benefits which is enacted to meet these rising expenses and to supplement what is in many cases the only and sometimes inadequate income should be passed along fully to our veterans and their families.
My bill would exempt an additional 10 percent income for the purposes of determining pensions. I realize that if any greater increase in social security is approved this percentage would have to be increased correspondingly. I would support any such change needed.
I strongly urge the committee to take favorable action on this proposal so that the entire increase will be received by those who so clearly deserve them.
Mr. Dorn. Thank you very much, Mr. Stratton. If there are no questions, the next witness will be Congressman Ryan, also from the State of New York. You may proceed, Mr. Ryan.
STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM F. RYAN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. Ryan. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to support H.R. 1221. It was introduced by me on the first day of this Congress. Specifically, it would amend section 521(f) (1), of title 38, which provides for non-service-connected disability pensions for veterans of World War I, World War II, and the Korean conflict, who are totally and permanently disabled. As you know, eligibility for the pension is determined by certain maximum income requirements. For instance, a veteran with dependents receives no pension at all if his income exceeds $3,000. My bill would provide that in determining this maximum income, $3,600 of the wife's unearned income, rather than $1,200 of it, as the law provides now, will be excluded.
This bill is one of many which have been introduced in the House, which attempt to remedy in varying degrees the curious and ironical inequity occasioned by the Social Security Amendments of 1965 (Public Law 89-97). Because of the increase of the social security benefits, many veterans and veterans' widows are placed in a higher income bracket for purposes of determining the veteran's pension. An estimated 29,000 people are thus affected.
In the Senate it was proposed that the social security increase be excluded outright from determination of the income. The proposal was offered as an amendment to the social security amendments themselves, to the war orphans assistance program, and to bills which would increase disability compensation. The Senate adopted the proposal each time, but the House did not concur.
The Veterans' Administration has opposed the exclusion on the ground that in 1964, when it appeared that social security benefits would be increased, a bill was enacted which allows 10 percent of pension income to be excluded in determination of the veteran's pension. However, the social security benefits were not increased because the bill died in conference in the final days of the Congress. But the 10percent exclusion already enacted went into effect in January 1965. The position of the Veterans' Administration is that this 10-percent exclusion compensates for the effect of the 1965 7-percent social security benefit increase upon computation of income for determination of the pension.
While I do not agree that the 10-percent exclusion meets the problem, it certainly will not compensate for the increase recommended by the administration to the 90th Congress.
I believe that the President voiced widespread sentiment when he urged on January 31, 1967:
We must make certain that ... (the social security increases) do not adversely affect the pensions paid to those veterans and dependents who are eligible for both benefits.
Accordingly, I propose that the Congress enact the necessary safeguards to assure that no veteran will have his pension reduced as a result of increases in Federal retirement benefits such as social security.
I agree with the President and support legislation to exclude the social security increases from computation of income. There are bills to accomplish this pending before your committee.
There are also other bills directed at this problem. Some would permit waiver of all or part of the social security benefits so that the amount thus waived would not be considered as income. Other bills would raise the 10-percent exclusion, while others would generally raise the Veterans Administration pension income limit. Also it has been proposed that income limitations be removed as regards veterans of certain ages. All of these proposals reflect the inequity of the present situation and the desire of many Congressmen to change the law so veterans will not suffer a loss of their well-earned pensions.
H.R. 1221 which would increase the excludable amount of the wife's unearned income is in this spirit. Certainly the good fortune of any increase in the wife's pension benefits, or the increase of any other income which is not earned, should not be at the cost of the husband's veteran's pension.
Mr. DORN. Thank you, Mr. Ryan. Now the subcommittee will hear a statement by Congressman Philip Ruppe, of Michigan. Congressman, you go right ahead.