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all in the defense of liberty, will never benefit from the special pension. Justice would be furthered if this award could be given to the widow, who generally has been deprived of her husband at a young age where old-age and retirement benefits are not yet available.
A special pension for the widow of a medal winner would serve to ease the worries of those fighting men who are making unusual sacrifices for their country. One object of awarding the Medal of Honor and the benefits accompanying it is to encourage gallantry in action; this bill would further that purpose by making some provision for the family that a Medal of Honor winner may leave behind.
Few Medal of Honor awards are made and there are fewer widows who would receive this pension, so the cost would be minimal. The lone widow of a medal winner in my State of Wyoming is Mrs. Eva Carey, of Cheyenne. Her late husband, T. Sgt. Charles F. Carey, Jr., a member of the 379th Infantry of the 100th Infantry Division, was killed in action January 9, 1945, at Reimling, France, and received the decoration posthumously.
To provide for the well-being of those widows whose husbands have died with particular distinction and to increase the value of the Medal of Honor in the eyes of our fighting men, I urge the Veterans' Affairs Committee to report favorably on H.R. 11582.
Mr. Dorn. Thank you, Teno. We will next hear the Honorable George P. Miller, of California. Go right ahead, Mr. Miller.
STATEMENT BY HON. GEORGE P. MILLER, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. MILLER. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity of expressing my interest in H.R. 14022, my bill to provide for the payment of pensions to veterans of World War I and their widows and children at the same rates as apply in the case of veterans of the Spanish-American War.
As a veteran of World War I, I am reminded almost daily of the great hardship which is faced by the veterans of this war, their widows, and families. Those who are living are faced with financial reserves accumulated for these late years in life at a time when the high inflation of the 1960's could not have been foreseen. For this reason, the people whom I seek to help with this bill are very often faced with poverty, a dependency upon their children, or welfare
Our Nation owes these people much more than than. One of the great sacrifices which a nation asks of its people is to fight in defense of their country and what it stands for. The very least that our Nation can do in return is to see that the veterans of a war live out their final years in honor and decency.
I strongly urge that favorable consideration be given this proposed legislation by the committee.
Mr. DORN. Thank you, Mr. Miller. We appreciate your interest. Next we will hear another of my colleagues on the Veterans' Affairs Committee, the Honorable Sy Halpern, of the State of New York. You may proceed, Sy.
STATEMENT BY HON. SEYMOUR HALPERN, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. HALPERN. I appreciate this opportunity to inform my colleagues of the Veterans Affairs Committee on two pending bills, H.R. 3804 and H.R. 3807.
Briefly, H.R. 3804 amends 38 U.S.C. 103(a)-special provisions relating to marriages-by liberalizing widows' death benefits.
At present, widows who receive benefits fall into two categories: women who were legally married and women who married in good faith without knowledge of the existence of a legal impediment to their marriage. The requirements for receiving benefits differ for
A woman in the first category, with a child, whose veteran husband died before their marriage attained 5 years' duration, is entitled to receive full widows' death benefits. However, a woman in the second category, under identical circumstances, is barred from receiving those benefits.
My bill would correct this inequity by applying across the board the same criteria to all widows, including those in the second category. In this way, women who bear childen before the death of their veteran husbands, will be entitled to receive full widows' death benefits.
My second bill, H.R. 3807, amends 38 U.S.C. 107 in an attempt to give fairer and more stable veterans' benefits to those Philippine veterans who fought in the service of the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II.
When Congress voted funds in 1946 to Philippine veterans at the rate of 1 peso for each dollar authorized, the Philippine peso had an exchange rate of 2 pesos for each dollar. Now, however, due to the Philippine inflation, the exchange rate is 4 pesos per dollar. Thus, the Philippine veteran or survivor is presently receiving only one-half of the monetary benefit originally authorized.
My amendment to the United States Code, which comes in response to a request by an American Legion post in the Philippines, provides for a constant monetary payment based on the going exchange rate of pesos for dollars. It would permit payment in pesos at an exchange rate equivalent to $0.50 for each dollar authorized. In this way, the rate in pesos could vary but without depreciating the real value of the benefit. This is not a new procedure. We are already paying veterans' benefits on an "equivalent” basis to other countries. Since this depreciation was not anticipated by Congress in 1946, and there is precedent for the new basis of payment-we have an obligation to correct this injustice.
Mr. Dorn. Thank you, Sy. We will now hear Congressman Ancher Nelsen from the State of Minnesota. You may proceed, Mr. Nelsen.
STATEMENT BY HON. ANCHER NELSEN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MINNESOTA
Mr. NELSEN. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appreciate this opportunity to testify in support of my bill, H.R. 12535, the veterans pension equity bill, which will raise the unbelievably low outside income limits for veterans and widows of
veterans receiving monthly pensions. By liberalizing these limitations, many pensioners will receive higher pensions.
This bill authorizes a 10-percent increase in the income limits authorized by Public Law 86-211. It will serve the double purpose of relieving the plight of those pensioners who were adversely affected by the recent increase in the social security benefits, and it will alleviate somewhat the impact of the spiraling cost of living on these fixed-income veteran pensioners. It will permit a modest increase in income without affecting pension entitlement.
Congress, in an effort to help the millions of our senior citizens who rely on the social security system, passed legislation last year_to authorize a modest 7-percent increase in monthly payments. For nearly 30,000 of the senior citizens who receive both veterans pensions and monthly social security benefits, this slight increase was sufficient to put them in a higher income bracket, thus reducing or terminating their monthly pension benefits. For example, there were instances in which veterans received an $8 increase in social security benefits per month only to be slapped with a $48 reduction in their veterans pensions because of their narrow entry into a higher income bracket.
The amount of a pension is determined by the amount of other income the veteran or widow receives. Tħere are three income categories. Those whose income places them in the lowest of these brackets receive the largest pension. By increasing the amounts of income limits, my bill will allow those in the lowest levels of each category to be included in the next income group below them, and thus they will receive larger pensions.
I do not feel that it was ever the intent of Congress that anyone should suffer a loss of any income as the result of the 7-percent increase in social security benefits, and the enatement of a bill such as mine is certainly necessary to do proper justice to our Nation's veterans.
This bill is also designed to alleviate the inequity which has developed as a result of the administration's inflationary fiscal policies. Anyone who has done any shopping lately knows that you cannot buy today's necessities at 1960 prices. Yet, in spite of this, the disabled veteran who is no longer able to work, and the widow of a man killed defending his country in war, still have the same unrealistic limits set on their outside income that they had in 1960.
The most tragic consequences of any inflationary period fall upon those who must live on a fixed income. Although the dollar amount they receive may be the same as it was a few years ago, they have considerably less to spend because their money will not buy as much as it used to.
Mr. Chairman, this legislation is urgently needed to assist the thousands of veterans and widows of veterans who are barely able to keep themselves fed, clothed, and sheltered with incomes well below the highly publicized poverty level of $3,000 per year. I strongly urge the committee to take favorable action on my bill soon to help correct the disparity of spendable income which now exists in our veterans pension program. Thank you.
Mr. DORN. Thank you, Congressman Nelsen. We will now hear Congressman Cramer of Florida. Go right ahead, Mr. Cramer.
STATEMENT BY HON. WILLIAM C. CRAMER, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Mr. CRAMER. Mr. Chairman, I am delighted to have the opportunity to testify in behalf of three bills I introduced which, if enacted into law, would have the salubrious effect of uplifting the welfare of World War I, World War II, and Korean veterans as well as their widows and dependents.
The bills, all aimed at increasing assistance to our veterans, are essential if the dignity of the veteran is to be maintained in an economy which, because of inflation, is rapidly denying him the necessities of life and in many instances making it virtually impossible for him to make both ends meet.
There are those that maintain that any increase in pensions will encourage inflation. But why, I ask, should the deserving veteran and his widow, of all people, have to pay the bill for the administration's grand experiment in unbalanced budgetary? The way to deal with inflation is not to treat its unfortunate effect on the pensioner, but to deal directly with its cause which is unrestricted Federal spending for unwise and discredited domestic programs and misdirected foreign aid.
I am hopeful that the Congress and the administration will establish principles of priority and impose fiscal restraints on those programs which are the cause of the alarming decrease in the value of the dollar so that its disastrous effect on veterans and other pensioners will be remedied.
Specifically, my bills provide as follows:
H.R. 11877.-- This bill amends title 38, United States Code, so as to permit the waiver of certain retirement or annuity payments under programs administered by the Federal Government; and to waive certain overpayments of veterans pensions resulting from enactment of the Social Security Amendments of 1965.
Public Law 88-664, amending the disability and death pension veterans laws, provided that 10 percent of all payments to an individual under any public or private retirement program, including social security, would be exempt from the computation of income for pension purposes. The 10-percent exclusion of income resulted in many veterans who were on the borderline of the income limitations of the pension law to receive an increase in their non-service-connected pension.
Then Public Law 89–97, the Social Security Amendments Act, increased all social security benefits by 7 percent. The 7-percent increase in social security benefits put many veterans over the income limitation, resulting in a reduction of their veterans pension. For many, the reduction in veterans pension was greater than the increase in social security benefits; thus, the veteran received less annual income after the social security increase than before.
The purpose of H.R. 11877 is to permit those veterans who wish to do so to waive entitlement to all or any part of increased benefits due them which would, if accepted, result in reductions in their veterans pension by reason of the outside earnings income limitation. The result of the bill would be to provide veterans with a means of preventing reductions in their veterans pensions by permitting him to waive receipt of that portion of any increase in other benefits
which would extend his income beyond the limitation allowed without deduction from pension.
H.R. 14695.- This bill increases the rate of pension payable to certain veterans of World War I, World War II, and the Korean conflict, their widows, and certain other dependents, and for other purposes.
This bill, which increases to $85.05 per month the amount a veteran would receive, applies only to those veterans who have not elected to receive benefits under the provisions of Public Law 86–211 (July 1, 1960). As this committee is well aware, the 1960 legislation provides that a veteran earning $600 or less per year receives a basic rate of $100 per month. Prior to enactment of this bill, the veteran only received $66.15 per month.
Many veterans chose to remain under the old law because it allows him to receive up to $2,700 of outside earnings without suffering any reduction in benefits. Under the 1960 legislation, a veteran earning between $2,000 and $3,000 would only receive $48 per month thereby explaining why a veteran would elect to remain under the old law.
Mr. Chairman, there are still 471,342 veterans who chose to receive benefits under the old law because of this built-in inequity in the 1960 legislation. This bill would remedy this situation.
H.R. 14694.—This bill amends title 38 of the United States Code to increase the rate of pension to certain veterans of World War I, World War II, and the Korean conflict, their widows and children, and for other purposes.
The bill accomplishes this increase by increasing the amount of outside earnings permitted without the veteran suffering a pension deduction.
Under this bill, an unmarried veteran who has no children may earn up to $2,400 per year without losing any pension benefits. If he is married or has one or more children, he may earn as high as $3,600 per year without losing pension benefits. The bill increases from $1,200 to $3,600 the amount a spouse may earn without affecting the veteran's pension. The bill also increases from $1,800 to $2,400 the amount a widow without children may earn and receive veterans benefits. A widow with one child would be allowed to earn up to $3,600 and still receive veterans benefits.
Mr. Dorn. Thank you, Mr. Cramer. Now we will hear Congressman James C. Corman, another Member from the State of California.
STATEMENT BY HON. JAMES C. CORMAN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. CORMAN. Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to testify on my four bills which advocate legislation to increase veterans pension benefits.
These proposals are of special importance now because so many veterans are approaching the age at which they will become eligible for pensions. For example, there now are more than 225,000 veterans of World War II over 64 who would directly benefit from passage of these measures.
The basic problem is that these veterans, nearly all retired or unemployed because of old age or non-service-connected disabilities, are trying to meet the rising costs of living with very small fixed incomes.