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Personal appearances before rating board and other adjudication personnel
Appearances Appealable Estimated Station
for week of issues, annual Feb. 8 to 12, fiscal year appearances 1965
3 70 99
374 237 76 78 22 333 257 174 18
92 51 52 89 207 236 114 92
91 95 29 58 14 25 214 50
55 117 96
DECEMBER 29, 1964. PERSONAL APPEARANCES BEFORE ADJUDICATION OFFICIALS 1. The instances where a claimant appears personally before a rating board or other adjudication official are limited. During fiscal year 1964 a total of 1,700,000 decisions were made in 66 regional offices. Each was subject to appeal.
2. Based on data derived from a recent study conducted at all regional offices, there are 7,800 personal appearances annually by claimants seeking information, explanation, or presenting argument. The ratio of appearances to substantive decision is 46 out of every 10,000.
Personal appearances before rating board and other adjudication personnel
95 99 31
26 223 52
154 172 110 54 61 90 29 136
101 59 81 178 37 18 142 141
96 170 16 54
Mr. DORN. Following the usual custom of this committee, we will hear today from Members of Congress, to be followed by representatives of the various veteran organizations, and the hearings will be concluded with testimony from the Veterans Administration. STATEMENT OF HON. PAUL A. FINO, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK Mr. DORN. The subcommittee welcomes Congressman Fino and he may present his statement at this point.
Mr. FINO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appreciate this opportunity to speak in behalf of two bills that I have introduced to amend the veterans' service-incurred disability laws.
Last year the Congress enacted significant and widely acclaimed legislation amending the non-service-connected disability pension law. I think that it is appropriate that we now turn our attention to the service-connected disability compensation field—the field in which we owe our primary obligations to our ex-service men and women.
The first bill to which I refer is H.R. 4380, which would provide wartime rates of disability compensation for veterans disabled from injury or disease incurred or aggravated by oversea service.
As you know, peacetime disability compensation rates are now set at 80 percent of wartime rates. Under existing law also, a veteran whose disability resulted from injury or disease received' in line of duty (1) as a direct result of armed conflict, (2) while engaged in extrahazardous service, or (3) between the dates of December 31, 1946, and July 26, 1947, is eligible for wartime disability compensation rates. H.R. 4380 would extend this same provision (sec. 336 of title 38) to those serving overseas.
This bill touches on an area in which it is extremely difficult to draw lines, but those lines must be drawn.
We have attempted in section 336 of title 38 to provide more equitable treatment in certain cases involving warlike or extrahazardous conditions. But still inequities exist. Under the law as it is now being applied, a veteran who is injured while driving a truck anywhere in Vietnam is eligible for wartime rates while a veteran who is similarly injured in Germany and Japan is not eligible for such rates. I repeat, this is an area in which it is hard to draw lines. But I feel that my bill would add a bit more equity to the law governing these situations.
The second bill I have introduced in this general area is H.R. 6133, which would amend section 110 of title 38, relating to the preservation of disability ratings after they have been in force for lengthy periods of time. This bill would amend section 110 of title 38, which, as originally enacted in 1954, Public Law 311, 83d Congress, provided that a rating of total disability or permanent total disability for compensation, pension, or insurance purposes which has been in force continuously for 20 or more years could not thereafter be reduced unless the rating was based on fraud.
Public Law 88–445, enacted last year, broadened the provisions of section 110 of title 38 to bar the reduction of any rating, regardless of the percentage of rating, which has been in force continuously for 20 years for compensation purposes only, unless it was fraudulently obtained. H.R. 6133, in effect, would extend the amendment adopted last year to any disability compensation rating which has been in effect continuously for 10 years or more, unless it was based on fraud.
I believe that the same reasons which justified the amendment of last year apply to the amendment contained in this bill. The vast majority of cases in which a rating has been in force continuously for 10 or more years are not going to change. Ten years is a sufficient length of time to indicate the permanency of any disability rating:
As was brought out in connection with last year's amendment, this provision would further simplify the administration of the compensation program and thereby reduce administrative costs by eliminating the necessity of reexamining veterans after the specified period has elapsed to ascertain whether their disability is at the established level. Further cost savings would be realized as a result of reductions in correspondence and appeals in connection with decisions to reduce rating evaluations.
As you will recall, last year the Veterans' Administration, at the request of the Veterans Affairs Committee, conducted a sample survey of compensation cases that would be affected by the bill then under consideration. This survey showed quite clearly that the vast majority of disabilities which had been rated for 20 years had become static and permanent. I believe that the same is true of those that have been in force for 10 years or more.
Any veteran who has been receiving disability compensation for 10 years or longer must naturally have geared his standard of living to the income he has received. To reduce this income after such a long time must come as a shock to the veteran and his family and cause them no little difficulty in managing their family budget.
Whether we grant these disabled veterans the assurance a fixed level of compensation at the end of 20 years, as the law now provides, or after 10 years, as H.R. 6133 would provide, is another arbitrary decision of which there are many to be made in the field of veterans legislation. I would gladly cast my vote in favor of 10 years in the interest of the veterans' peace of mind and also for the sake of administrative simplification.
Mr. Dorn. The chairman welcomes Congressman Roudebush. STATEMENT OF HON. RICHARD L. ROUDEBUSH, A REPRESENTA
TIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF INDIANA Mr. ROUDEBUSH. Mr. Chairman, I am appearing today in support of legislation, H.R. 3408, which I introduced in the House January 25, 1965.
This bill is similar to legislation I introduced in previous Congresses, and its purpose is quite simple to explain.
This bill merely amends section 312 of title 38 and provides a 6-year presumption of service-connection for tuberculosis, provided the applicant is a former prisoner of war. Under present regulations of the Veterans' Administration, the wartime veteran has a presumption for far-advanced tuberculosis of 3 years.
I have always felt that those men who suffered through the horrors of a prisoner-of-war camp should have a longer time to prove their condition to be service incurred. H.R. 3408 provides that if a serviceman or former serviceman was held a prisoner of war, if active tuberculosis is diagnosed within 6 years from the date of discharge it shall be presumed to have been incurred in service. This would be an extension of the presumption period for this condition.
I don't think any of us can argue that men who lived under the rigors of a prisoner-of-war camp do not suffer a general weakening of their bodies, and thereby become more susceptible to tuberculosis. Further, tuberculosis is a very insidious disease that can lay dormant for many years before it becomes active and its symptoms noted.
Certainly the experience of a prisoner of war, under prisoner-of-war conditions, does enhance the chance of this condition manifesting itself in active form following discharge.
This legislation would apply to relatively few American veterans, and I think it is certainly good legislation. I am sure the committee will give it careful consideration.
Mr. Dorn. The chairman welcomes Congressman Daniels.
STATEMENT OF HON. DOMINICK V. DANIELS, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
Mr. DANIELS. Mr. Chairman, on March 11 of this year I entered a bill, H.R. 6161, to provide wartime rates of disability compensation for veterans disabled from injury or disease incurred or aggravated by overseas service and free insurance protection for members of the Armed Forces serving overseas.
I am happy to be able to appear before this committee in support of the first half of my bill. I hope that I shall be able to testify at a later date on the second half.
I shall be brief, Mr. Chairman, because I am sure that the members of this committee are well aware of the hazards of service in southeast Asia.
Our young men in the steaming jungles of South Vietnam are just as much in danger of death or disability as an older generation was in World War II and in Korea.
A century ago, Abraham Lincoln, in his second inaugural address, stated that "it was the policy of this Nation to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.” I am proud that the Congress of the United States and the Veterans Affairs Committee has always adhered to the philosophy of the Great Emancipator.
I know that this committee shall continue to show the same high regard for our future veterans as it has for those who answered the call in the past.
I am deeply grateful for having been given the time to speak in favor of this important legislation and I have no doubt that this committee will give speedy approval to this vitally needed measure. Thank you for your time and attention.
Mr. DoRn. Thank you, Mr. Daniels. We will now hear Congressman Donahue of Massachusetts.