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: Mr. SARBACHER. Well, I want to have the records checked.
Mr. PATTERSON. Well, that way you will be checking records for the next 5 years, because you know the way the troops moved out in the Pacific. They just loaded you on a transport and you were under way.
Mr. MATHEWS. The chairman of the subcommittee may say he is entirely in sympathy with you, but it is going to take a little time to work it out the way Mr. Sarbacher suggests. I think it is a worthy goal, and, speaking for myself, I think we should work on it to try to bring out a bill which will be satisfactory.
Is there anybody else who wants to be heard on 3650?
Mr. MATHEWS. All right. We will turn our attention to H. R. 1200. Now, Mr. Patterson, we will hear you on that bill.
Mr. PATTERSON. Well, the bill in itself is explanatory, and it was presented to me by request, and there are people here today that are going to testify on this bill, and technically they are better equipped to do so that I am.
Mr. MATHEWS. Then you have nothing further on that?
STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM G. STIGLER, MEMBER OF CONGRESS FROM THE SECOND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA
Mr. MATHEWS. You may proceed, Mr. Stigler.
First, may I thank the committee for the opportunity of appearing before the subcommittee in behalf of H. R. 1453? I might say, Mr. Chairman, that a similar measure was introduced by me last year known as H. R. 4170, but no action was taken on the bill by the committee.
All H. R. 1453 does, it lifts the limitation on incomes of widows drawing pensions. At the present time that limitation is $1,000. This bill of mine lifts that limitation.
Mr. MATHEWS. To what?
I understand there are several other bills of a similar nature pending before the committee. May I say I have no pride of authorship. am not particularly concerned with whether the limitation is entirely taken off
, but I do want to impress upon the committee the fact that if it is not inclined to lift the limitation entirely, I think the limitation should be raised in line with what the American Legion is advocating. I understand they have a mandate raising the limitation to $1,800 wnere there are no dependents and to $2,500 where there are dependents.
I have some facts and figures which I would like to recite, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MATHEWS. Might I interrupt at this point? You would have no objection to a figure which is reasonable, raising the limitation to a reasonable figure!
Mr. STIGLER. No, sir; I would not.
Mr. MATHEWS. Because this is a dependency matter and not to the veteran himself?
Mr. STIGLER. That is right.
Mr. MATHEWS. Being a dependency matter, it seems to me at least there should be some reasonable limitation.
Mr. STIGLER. But I do not think that the limitation should be raised more than what it is now.
Last year when I introduced a similar bill I received letters from widows all over the United States urging the passage of the measure.
After introducing the same bill this year, a similar deluge of letters came, urging the Congress to do something with reference to lifting the limitation up to a certain point.
Mr. MATHEWS. Particularly in view of the rising cost of living. Mr. STIGLER. Yes, sir. That is right.
Shortly after introducing the measure, I contacted the Veterans Administration in an effort to get some idea of the cost and the number of cases that are now drawing pensions. With reference to World War I nonservice death cases, the number of widows and children receiving death pension at the end of the fiscal year 1946 was 128,698 cases, and the cost was $64,180,887.28. Now, there are some children, of course, receiving pension in their own right, and, as of April 30, 1947, the number of pension cases on rolls, of both children and widows, numbered 147,368. The number of widows on pension rolls as of April 30, 1947, amount to 134,660. That is just widows alone. It does not include the children, of course, and the number of widows on rolls where the husband's death was service-connected, as of April 30, 1947, runs to 30,000.
Í endeavored to obtain from the Veterans' Administration an estimate of the number of widows eligible if the income restriction was lifted entirely, but they were unable to furnish me that information because they said that so many widows had never filed because they had been informed of the $1,000 limitation, and then, too, a widow might be disqualified one year and the following year she could qualify.
The rate of death of World War I veterans as of June 30, 1946, was 209,789; and, as of April 30, 1947, there were 225,420; and the average age of World War I veterans is 54. Widows are approximately in the same age category, which, I think, shows conclusively that most of them have got to look to the Government for assistance.
As of April 30, 1947, there were 3,700,000 living World War I veterans.
With reference to World War II, as of April 30, 1947, there were 221,882 deceased World War II veterans. Of this number, 220,181 died of service-connected causes, and there were 1,701 non-serviceconnected causes. As of the same date, there were 107,616 widows of World War II veterans on rolls, and 106,133 of these widows were receiving compensation for service-connected death, and 1,483 widows were receiving benefits for non-service-connected deaths.
At the end of 1946 fiscal year, there were 725 non-service-connected cases, widows and children, costing them sum of $326,124. At the end of April 1947, there were 1,483 widows and children receiving compensation at the rate of $42 per month. That is based, Mr. Chairman, on widow payments only, at a cost of $747,400.
I made an effort also to get an approximate estimate from the Veterans' Administration as to what it would cost the Government if the limitation was lifted altogether on World War II widows, but they had no way of figuring it.
That, Mr. Chairman, concludes my testimony.
Mr. Vail. Does your bill contemplate pensions to widows who have remarried?
Mr. STIGLER. No; it does not. My personal opinion, though, on that subject is when they remarry they should be disqualified from drawing further compensation from the Government as a widow of the deceased war veteran.
Mr. VAIL. That is an amendment which should be incorporated ?
Mr. Stigler, your act covers widows and children of persons who died while receiving monetary benefits for disabilities directly incurred in or aggravated by active military or naval service in the World War. That is, World War I?
Mr. STIGLER. Yes, sir. Mr. MATHEWS. So your act only affects World War I veterans? Mr. STIGLER. Well, you see, in 1945, I believe, the Congress passed a law eliminating the service-connected feature there. In other words, one did not have to be drawing service-connected compensation after this act was passed for the widow to qualify to draw a pension. Up until this law was passed, as I understand it, before the widow could draw compensation her husband had to be drawing service-connected compensation, so this act lifted that limitation.
Now, the main purpose of my bill, Mr. Chairman, is to lift the income limitation of $1,000. I said in the beginning, I do not care whether you take it off altogether or if you want to place a ceiling on it, but if a ceiling is placed, I think it should be raised.
Mr. MATHEWS. Well, do you know whether or not there is an income limitation so far as widows and children are concerned of persons who died while in the service, actual service connection? While under service? Is there an income limitation on that? There is not, is there?
Mr. STIGLER. No, sir. If he is drawing compensation, you mean?
Mr. MATHEWS. No. If he actually died while in the service? There is no income limitation?
Mr. STIGLER. No. There is no limitation on that, as I understand it, whatsoever.
Mr. MATHEWS. That is my understanding.
Mr. MATHEWS. Are there any other Members of the House who want to be heard on their bills?
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN A. BLATNIK, MEMBER OF CONGRESS
FROM THE EIGHTH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA
Mr. MATHEWS. Go ahead, sir.
The bill, I think, is quite self-explanatory, and I believe there are several others to testify along that same line.
To save the time of the committee, as well as witnesses who are waiting to testify, I have a short statement. May I have it inserted in the record? I will just summarize the figures.
Mr. MATHEWS. If there is no objection, that will be done. (The statement referred to is as follows:)
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN A. BLATNIK, OF MINNESYTA, BEFORE THE HOUSE COM
MIITEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIES IN SUP.O.T OF H. R. 2566, JUNE 1947
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, the many laws enacted by the Congress in the past establishing a benefit and pension system for veterans and their dependents have been based on the same assumption: That the United States Government has certain obligations to those who offered their lives in defense of the state in time of war. I know that most Members of Congress are in agreement with this premise.
I am convinced that the United States Government program for the veteran is a sound one. For this reason, there is no need for sweeping reforms or major changes. Only a few minor changes are necessary from time to time to correct weaknesses that have developed and to remove inequalities and inequities which have been discovered. It was for the purpose of eliminating certain inequities that I introduced H. R. 2566 on March 17, 1917.
H. R. 2566 consists of two parts. Section 1 is designed to liberalize the income limitations governing the granting of pensions to veterans of World War I and Word War II. As you know, the Veterans Regulations (sec. II, par. (a), of part III of Veterans Regulations No. 1 (a)) makes provisions for the granting of pensions to veterans of the two world wars for non-service-connected disability. Under the law, a disabled veteran is entitled to a pension of $60 per month. This · monthly pension is increased to $72 if the veteran has a permanent and total disability rating for 10 continuous years, or if he has reached the age of 65 years and is permanently and totally disabled.
Eligibility for this type of pension is subject, however, to an income limitation. Such a pension is not payable to an unmarried veteran whose annual income exceeds $1,000, nor to a married veteran (or one with minor children) who has an annual income exceeding $2.50).
Section 1 of my bill (H. R. 2766) amends the existing law to raise these income limitations governing the granting of pensions for non-service-connected disability from $1,000 to $2,000 for unmarried veterans, and from $2,500 to $3,000 for married veterans.
Section 2 of H. R. 2566 has as its purpose the liberalization of income limitations governing the payment of pensions to dependents of veterans of the two world wars in case of non-service-connected death. Under the law, the widow or child of a veteran whose death is non-service-connected, but who was suffering from a service-connected disability at the time of death (this disability clause has been repealed with respect to veterans of World War I), is eligible for pension. A widow with no children receives $42 per month; a widow with one child receives $54 per month with $6 for each additional child; one child and no widow is paid $21.60 per month with additional amounts for each motherless child.
Such pensions to dependents are governed by income limitations which parallel those relating to veterans' pensions. According to the existing law (Public Law 484, 73d Cong., as amended by Public Law 198, 76th Cong., as amended by Public Law 144, 78th Cong.), a veteran's widow with no children becomes inelig‘ble for a pension if her annual income exceeds $1,000. The same is true of minor child of a deceased veteran. Neither are death-pension payments allowed a widow with children whose income exceeds $2,500 per year.
Section 2 of my bill would raise these income limitations from $1,000 to $2,000 per year for a widow without children, or for a minor child. At the same time, the limitation would be raised from $2,500 to $3,000 for widows with children.
The justification for the liberalization of these income limitations is obvious. A couple of concrete examples showing how existing law works hardship on individuals will reveal the need for such changes in the law. Suppose a veteran who is suffering from a non-service-connected disability. At the same time he is receiving a private income of say $1,050 per year or about $87 per month. This veteran cannot obtain a pension. Thus we see that a veteran who makes a few hundred a year from private sources or from a small business is penalized. He is denied a pension, yet his income is not adequate to live decently. No one can live properly today on an income of $87 per month or $21 per week.
A married veteran is faced with the same situation. It is hard to make both ends meet on $2,500 per year after taxes have been paid. Yet this veteran cannot obtain a pension if his income goes above this level. • The same arguments apply to the income limitations governing pension payments to the dependents of veterans. A widow who receives the $42 per month pension is unable to exist on said pension. She is therefore forced to seek employment to supplément her pension. Today nearly every job that one may accept pays $1,000 per year or more—just enough to make the widow ineligible for a pension. Some time ago I received a letter from St. Louis County Veterans' Service Office, informing me that many widows have become ineligible for receiving this pension because their annual salary just went over the line, and they cannot receive a pension unless they stop working. This is the dilemma facing many widows. Their $42 pension is not enough to live on-yet if they go to work they become ineligible for said pension. The same argument can be used for many widows with children.
The rising cost of living might also be mentioned in connection with these income limitations. Since March 1940 the cost of living has gone up by nearly 60 percent; the cost of food has doubled; the cost of clothing has increased by 80 percent. If it was not for this inflation the $1,000 income limitations for veterans and their dependents would not cause real hardship. A single person could exist on $20 per week back in 1940. But today this is impossible. This inflation alone is justification for the liberalization of the law.
Mr. BLATNIK. The bill amends the veterans' regulations in two instances by increasing the income limitation, first, in the case of nonservice-connected pensions where the limitation for a single man is $1,000 income per year; if he exceeds that, he is not eligible for the pension. My bill raises it to $2,000.
Mr. MATHEWS. Your bill raises it to $2,000 ?
Mr. BLATNIK. A single man now is limited to an annual income of $1,000. We raise that to $2,000.
A married man is limited at present to $2,500 annually. We raise that to $3,000. That is the first part.
Part No. 2, it is on page 2, line 7. This deals with the annual incomes of the widows, dependents of the veteran. Here again, with respect to a widow with no children, the present limitation is $1,000. We raise that to $2,000; and with respect to a widow with children, the present limitation, which is $2.500, is raised to $3,000.
We have received many resolutions from veterans' organizations of my district, and from veterans' service officers urging an increase along this line, and we justify it on the basis, first, that the original limitation is quite low, and, second, in addition, you have the substantial increase in the cost of living, which works a real hardship in the case of both single and married veterans as well as widows without children or with children.
The cost of living—I include this in my report here—since 1940 has gone up nearly 60 percent. The cost of food has almost doubled. The cost of clothing has gone up about 80 percent, and we find many of these people just cannot make ends meet. A veteran or a widow with