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Dr. Shapiro. No. They are ordered in one of two ways: Either the Veterans' Administration on its own motion asks for a reexamination, which is the usual procedure, or if the veteran is dissatisfied with his rating or feels that he has an increased disability, he submits evidence from his private physician. If the Veterans' Administration feels that that shows a changed condition, they will authorize a reexamination.
Mr. LANZETTA. Where the Veterans' Administration orders the reexamination, is the veteran required to submit additional proof?
Dr. SHAPIRO. No; he is not.
Dr. SHAPIRO. He can either appeal on the examination which reduced him or else he can submit additional evidence which would warrant a reexamination; or, if there is a difference of opinion between the veetran's physician and the Government's physician, or between the different agencies of the Government themselves, as, for example, between a doctor and the Rating Board, those cases are ironed out by sending the man to the so-called diagnostic centers.
Mr. LANZETTA. Where they cannot agree, does that throw the burden of proof on the veteran?
Dr. SHAPIRO. The veteran is rated according to what the examination shows. In other words, the veteran is not rated on the statement of his private physician. His private physician may indicate an increase in disability, but before that is granted the Veterans' Administration will call him in to check up the report of the private physician. Of course, I can see a lot of justification for that.
Mr. LANZETTA. But these reexaminations do entail a lot of trouble and work on the part of the veteran, in order to comply with the various rulings that the boards make from time to time?
Dr. SHAPIRO. It does throw a certain burden upon the veteran because he does not see what the examiner has said about him. Frequently, after I have gone over an examination of a veteran, I have been able to go back and get the entire picture changed because it did not reflect the veteran's true condition. Of course that is the purpose of the service organizations in handling these cases.
Of course, those are isolated instances. I said "frequently”; it is really not a large percentage of the cases. Usually these examinations do reflect the true conditions.
The CHAIRMAN. These cases are examined on an average how many times, would you say?
Dr. SHAPIRO. Weil, it is rather frequent in my experience to check up a folder of a man who filed his claim back in 1919 or 1920, who has been examined at least 20 times and has had at least 20 ratings. I could show you some with a good deal more ratings. Of course, those are cases largely of men who have had a lot of scraps and difficulty with the Veterans' Administration.
But you have seen these large folders. A great deal of it is composed of rating sheets and reexaminations.
The CHAIRMAN. I think the representatives of the veterans' organizations should give serious consideration and study to the wisdom of the passage of a law that would either freeze these ratings where they are or establish a level on which a man could have his rating frozen. Mr. Miller. We are prepared to present that point to the committee, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, I do not know that it is my particular duty to be here and speak for the side of the Government so frequently, but I do want to say to you that the tendency has been to give permanent ratings for years. In 1930 there were 156,000 individuals examined for rating purposes. Last year there were only 116,000. The thing you are complaining about is going down and should go down much further, whether you do it by law or regulation. I am in a position to tell the committee that the Administrator is now framing a regulation which will measurably produce, much more than at any time in the past, just what you are talking about. I hope the chairman will ask the Administrator to explain that regulation and its intent before the committee.
The CHAIRMAN. We ought to have a Government of laws and not of regulations. That is what I am trying to say.
Mr. Kirby. That is what I am opposed to, Mr. Chairman-the law. I am not opposed to the Veterans' Administration, but it was a decision of the Supreme Court that caused them to hold a threat over these double amputation cases which I was discussing a few moments ago off the record.
The CHAIRMAN. Of course, that was in one particular case.
Mr. KIRBY. It is our purpose to prepare and propose legislation to secure that.
The CHAIRMAN. That is as to that phase of it. But there are other phases that have to be cured. It seems to me we are far enough away from the war now that we ought to get on some kind of permanent basis and let a man know that this is what he can depend on for life.
Mr. MILLER. Of course, you cannot freeze it against the man himself. You must give him a chance to come in and prove that he is suffering under a greater disability, if he is.
The CHAIRMAN. The man always has the right to apply to the Pension Bureau, does he not, Mr. Miller?
Mr. MILLER. Let me say this: Seventy-five percent of the men who are reexamined now are reexamined at their own instance. The actual ruling of the Government, in cases of fluctuating diseases, is that they are examined about every 2 years. They propose to extend that period now and give these men a little more quiet, a little more surcease from the necessity of being reexamined and the possibility of having a reduction in their rating. Reductions do not always follow when they are reexamined but many times they do. If you want to write that into the law, that would be fine, but we must always be careful not to foreclose the man from his right to go to the Government and make a showing.
The CHAIRMAN. A man on the pension roll is never foreclosed from coming forward and proving that he did not get what was coming to him.
Mr. KIRBY. Mr. Chairman, did you not introduce a bill to prevent the breaking of service connection after 5 years?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes. My opinion is that whenever these men learn that they are on a permanent rating they will not try to disturb
that rating. But as it is now the man feels that he is constantly on trial, that he is constantly in danger of having his status changed.
Doctor, have you finished your statement?
Dr. SHAPIRO. I have finished. I want to thank the committee very much for its courtesy and patience.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Doctor.
The committee will adjourn now until Friday morning at 10:30 o'clock, when we will hear Captain Miller.
(Whereupon the committee adjourned to meet on Friday, Feb. 26, 1937, at 10:30 a. m.)
TO AMEND CERTAIN LAWS AND VETERANS' REGULATIONS AFFECTING WORLD WAR VETERANS AND THEIR DEPENDENTS
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 1937
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C. The committee met at 10:30 a. m., Hon. John E. Rankin (chairman) presiding
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order.
Captain Miller, do you want to make a further statement this morning?
Captain MillER. Mr. Chairman, I will have concluded my statement in the record, but you requested that I be here for questions, if that is deemed necessary.
The CHAIRMAN. I have no questions. If the lady from Massachusetts has none, we will proceed with the next witness.
The next witness is Captain Kirby, national legislative chairman of the Disabled American Veterans.
Let me say to all of the witnesses, in advance, that if you have your material written, you can read what you want and put the rest of it in the record.
STATEMENT OF CAPT. THOMAS KIRBY, NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE
CHAIRMAN, DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS Captain KIRBY. Mr. Chairman, may I first present for the record H. R. 1537, introduced by the chairman of this committee under the legislative program adopted by the Sixteenth National Convention of the disabled American Veterans at Milwaukee last summer.
The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, it is so ordered. (H. R. 1537 is as follows:)
(H. R. 1537, 75th Cong., 1st sess.) A BILL To amend certain laws and veterans' regulations affecting World War Veterans and their de.
pendents, and for other purposes Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of Americaa in Congress assembled, That that part of paragraph VI (A), Veterans' Regulation Numbered 6, as amended by Veterans' Regulation Numbered 6 (c), promulgated under the provisions of Public Law Numbered 2, Seventy-third Congress, March 20, 1933, preceding the first proviso, is hereby repealed insofar as it pertains to compensation and emergency officers' retirement pay being received by World War veterans for service-connected disabilities.
Sec. 2. Notwithstanding any provision of law or veterans' regulation, the term "widow" of a World War veteran under the laws providing for their relief shall mean a person who was married to the veteran prior to July 3, 1935, and who has not remarried. The Administrator of Veterans' Affairs is hereby authorized and directed to review and adjudicate claims heretofore or hereafter filed in the Veterans' Administration where the marriage to the veteran occurred subsequent to July 2, 1931, and to pay benefits from the date of the veteran's death, if otherwise entitled, and regardless of the date of the receipt of the claim therefor by the Veterans' Administration.
Sec. 3. That, on and after the enactment of this Act and notwithstanding any provision of law or veterans' regulation, in no event shall any person by reason of willful misconduct be denied any of the service connected, including presumptively service connected, benefits under the laws providing relief for veterans of the World War and their dependents: Provided, That such misconduct did not interfere during service with the full performance of military or naval duty: Provided further, That all reasonable doubts shall be resolved in favor of the claimant, the burden of proof being on the Government.
SEC. 4. That section 1 of Public Law Numbered 844, Seventy-fourth Congress, June 29, 1936 (49 Stat. 2031), is hereby amended to read as follows:
“Sec. 1. That, notwithstanding the provisions of Public Law Numbered 484, Seventy-third Congress (U. S. C., 1934 edition, title 38, secs. 503–507), in no event shall the widow, child, or children otherwise entitled to compensation under the provisions of that Act be denied such compensation if the veteran's death resulted from a disease or disability not service-connected, and at the time of the veteran's death he was receiving or entitled to receive compensation, pension, or retirement pay for disability presumptively or directly incurred in or aggravated by service in the World War: Provided, That compensation as provided by this section, as amended, shall not be payable effective prior to the receipt of application therefor in the Veterans' Administration in such form as the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs may prescribe and in no event prior to the date of enactment of this amendatory Act.”
Sec. 5. That, effective on the 1st day of the month next following the date of enactment of this Act, the rates of death compensation payable under the provisions of existing laws or veterans' regulations to a surviving widow, child, or children, or dependent parents, now on the rolls or hereafter to be placed on the rolls as the surviving widow, child, or children, or dependent parents of any World War veteran who died as a result of injury or disease incurred in or aggravated by active military or naval service in the World War, shall be as follows: Widow but no child, $60; widow and one child, $75; widow and two children, $87 (with $10 for each additional child); no widow but one child, $30; no widow but two children, $54 (equally divided) (with $20 for each additional child; total amount to be equally divided); (where there is a widow or child) dependent mother or father, $30, or both $15 each; (where there is no widow or child) dependent mother or father $60, or both $30 each.
SEC. 6. Notwithstanding any provision of law or veterans' regulation, where pension is payable to a World War veteran on account of non-service-connected, perinanent total disability, such pension shall be paid in addition to any compensation ble for service-connected disease or injury not considered in dete ng the permanent total rating.
Sec. 7. Notwithstanding any provision of law or veterans' regulation, except as to emergency officers' retirement pay, reenlistment in the military or naval service on or after November 12, 1918, and before July 2, 1921, shall be considered as World War service under the laws providing benefits for World War veterans and their dependents.
Sec. 8. That a new section be added to title III, World War Veterans' Act, 1924, as amended (U. S. C., title 38), to be known as section 312 and to read as follows:
“Sec. 312. Without prejudice to any other cause of disability, the permanent loss of the use of both feet, or both hands, or both eyes, or of one foot and one hand, or one foot and one eye, or one hand and one eye, or the loss of hearing in both ears, or the organic loss of speech, or becoming permanently helpless or permanently bedridden, shall be deemed total permanent disability for insurance purposes. This section shall be deemed to be in effect as of October 6, 1917, and shall apply to all automatic insurance, all yearly renewable term insurance, and to all United States Government life' (converted) insurance heretofore and hereafter issued."
Sec. 9. That that part of the second proviso, section 28, Public Law Numbered 141, Seventy-third Congress, March 28, 1934 (48 Stat. 524; U. S. C., title 38, sec. 722), which limits payment of compensation thereunder to 75 per centum of the payments otherwise authorized, is hereby repealed and the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs is hereby authorized and directed to pay 100 per centum of the compensation otherwise authorized under Public Law Numbered 141, Seventythird Congress.