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Rodriguez, Carlos. (See Paralyzed Veterans of America.)
Page Bernstein, Howard, Assistant General Counsel..
2193–2195 Reports on bills considered.--
2028–2056 Wilson, Rufus H., Chief Benefits Director.
2186-2195 Veterans of Foreign Wars: Resolutions of..
2198, 2199 Stover, Francis W., director, national legislative service
2195-2200 Veterans of World War I of the U.S.A., Inc.: Miller, Victor V., national commander.
2204-2206 Wilson, Rufus H. (See Veterans' Administration.) Zwach, Hon. John M.
DEPENDENCY AND INDEMNITY COMPENSATION FOR WIDOWS OF VETERANS WHOSE DEATH WAS SERVICE CONNECTED
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 1969
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., in room 334, Cannon House Office Building, Hon. W. J. Bryan Dorn, chairman of the subcommittee, presiding.
Mr. DORN. The subcommittee will come to order. We are meeting this morning to consider legislation relating to dependency and indemnity compensation for widows of veterans whose death was service connected. We are also considering some facets of the non-service-connected pension program, primarily relating to the filing of the annual income questionnaire.
Without objection, I will insert at this time in the record the text of the several bills and the Veterans Administration reports thereon. (The information follows:)
Washington, D.C., February 19, 1969.
Washington, D.C. DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: We are pleased to respond to your request for a report on H.R. 366, 91st Congress. It is identical with #.R. 12278, 90th Congress, which was pending before your committee at the close of that Congress.
The bill proposes to exclude annuity payments under the retired serviceman's family protection plan (10 Ú.S.C. ch. 73) from consideration as annual income for purposes of (1) non-service-connected disability and death pension, and (2) service-connected dependency and indemnity compensation for parents, provided respectively by chapters 15 and 13 of title 38, United States Code. The measure would also exclude from income for purposes of the latter benefit pension received under the prior pension law in effect on June 30, 1960.
Chapter 15 of title 38, United States Code, provides monthly nonservice-connected disability or death pension for otherwise eligible veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean conflict, or the Vietnam era, and their widows and children. Payment is subject, among other standards, to graduated annual income limitations with maximum of $2,000 for a single veteran or a widow without a child, and $3,200 for a married veteran or a veteran or widow with a child. There is an unearned annual income limitation of $1,800 applicable to a child when there is no widow entitled. In determining annual income for such purposes, all payments of any kind or from any source are included except certain payments specifically excluded by 38 U.S.C. 503.
Under chapter 13 of title 38, United States Code, monthly dependency and indemnity compensation payments are made to widows and certain parents and children of veterans who die of a service-connected or compensable disability. Parents' benefits are provided on a sliding scale based on annual income. The income limitations vary according to whether there are one or two parents, and in a case of two parents, whether they are living together or apart. They range to maximums of $2,000 for an only parent and for each of two parents living apart, and $3,200 for two parents living together. In determining annual income for such purposes, all payments of any kind or from any source are included except certain payments specifically excluded by 38 U.S.C. 415(g).
The annuities under the retired serviceman's family protection plan, which the bill would exclude from income under the two described
Veterans' Administration benefit programs, are payable at the election of a retired member of the Armed Forces to a surviving spouse and/or children. At its inception, the plan (then known as the Uniformed Services Contingency Option Act of 1953) provided that annuities thereunder “shall not be considered income under any law administered by the Veterans' Administration."
Public Law 881, 84th Congress, which established our dependency and indemnity compensation program, effective January 1, 1957, specifically amended the Uniformed Services Contingency Option Act of 1953 (10 U.S.C. 1441) to include annuities under the act as income or parents' dependency and indemnity compensation purposes.
Ås you know, following extensive study by the legislative and executive branches, the current Veterans Administration pension program relating to World War I and subsequent war periods was established by Public Law 86-211, effective July 1, 1960. In adopting that graduated pension system, which provides more effective tests of need based on income and net worth, the Congress also specifically amended the law providing annuities for survivors of retired servicemen, to include such annuities as income for pension purposes (10 U.S.C. 1441).
With regard to the described annuities, H.R. 366 proposes legislative retrogression, to what the law was prior to the two deliberate congressional actions reflected by Public Law 881, 84th Congress, and Public Law 86–211. We note that the conferees on S. 16, 90th Congress, deleted an identical proposal for exclusion from annual income of annuities under the retired serviceman's family protection plan as well as a proposal identical to that of H.R. 366 for exclusion from parents' income of payments under the pension law in effect on June 30, 1960.
The proposed exclusion from annual income of annuities under the retired serviceman's family protection plan would permit persons who are ineligible for pension or dependency and indemnity compensation because of excess income to become eligible therefor by not counting as income money actually available for their support. Other persons would receive a greater amount of pension or dependency and indemnity compensation than presently authorized if the exclusion were adopted. The same objections apply to the proposed exclusion of payments under the prior pension program from income of parents under the dependency and indemnity compensation program. The measure is not consonant with the philosophy of Veterans' Administration programs which provide benefits based on need. Moreover, approval of the exclusions could stimulate requests for additional exclusions, including other annuities and retirement benefits, private as well as governmental. Accordingly, I recommend that H.R. 366 be not favorably considered.
There are no available data on which to base an estimate of the cost of H.R. 366, if enacted. It is believed, however, that its cost would not be significant.
Advice has been received from the Bureau of the Budget that there is no objection to the presentation of this report from the standpoint of the administration's program. Sincerely,
W. J. DRIVER, Administrator.
Washington, D.C., April 14, 1969.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: The following comments are furnished in response to your request for a report on H.R. 693, 91st Co gress. This will serve also as a report on the following bills which are either identical with or similar in purpose to H.R. 693: H.R. 4620, H.R. 6987, H.R. 7455, H.R. 8195, and H.R. 8820.
Section 1 of H.R. 693, and the corresponding section of identical bills H.R. 7455, H.R. 8195, and H.R. 8820, would amend section 622 of title 38, United States Code, by adding a subsection which would prohibit requiring from a veteran who is 70 years of age or older any statement under oath of inability to defray the expenses of hospital or domiciliary care for a non-service-connected disability and would provide that such veteran shall be deemed to be unable to pay for such care. H.R. 4620 proposes a similar exemption for veterans who are 65 or older.
Historically, the Veterans' Administration has been authorized to provide hospitalization or domiciliary care to war veterans for nonservice-connected disabilities if a bed is available and if the veteran is unable to pay the cost of such care. Inability to pay is established by the veteran's statement under oath. The bill
, in effect, would permit hospital or domiciliary care without regard to financial status to an otherwise eligible veteran who is 70 years old or older (65 or older under H.R. 4620).
This proposal presents a basic issue as to whether a veteran's advanced age alone should be considered a sufficient basis for an exception to the longstanding requirement that care at Government expense for conditions wholly unrelated to his military service may be furnished only to a veteran who is financially unable to provide necessary care for himself. If a veteran is well able to pay, there would seem to be no reason for distinguishing his case on the ground that he is older than some other veteran.
Enactment of the bill would give the aged veteran who is able to defray medical costs access to a Veterans' Administration bed when otherwise he would not qualify and in some instances would deprive a younger veteran of prompt admission for needed care who is clearly unable to defray the cost. To this extent the bill is discriminatory. It would inspire unfavorable comparisons at the community level and subject the entire veterans hospital program to criticism. We are unable to recommend favorable consideration of this proposed amendment.