Page images
PDF
EPUB

veteran of $23.10 per month or $277.20 annually. This is but a typical example of the financial hardship worked with respect to some 29,000 veterans who have suffered similar losses as a result of the Social Security amendments.

It is indeed a paradox that at a time when so much attention is necessarily directed to the affairs of the military, the plight of our past soldiers should go unheeded in the halls of Congress. I am speaking particularly of our World War I veterans--men who served their country at a time of great crisis, their ranks presently diminished by the passing of time, their image obscured with the fading of public memory-in truth, our forgotten warriors.

With an average age of over 70 years, many of these veterans are dependent upon their pension income for their living. Not only has the recent Social Security legislation led to severe inequities in respect to those veterans most needful of their full pension, the fixed-income nature of the pension payments has not provided any protection to the veteran from the increasing ravages of inflation.

My attention to this vital area has recently been drawn to the legislation introduced by Congressman Haley, a member of this Committee. H.R. 13499, Mr. Haley's bill, would exclude from consideration as income, for the purpose of determining pension eligibility, all payments of any kind or from any source after the veteran attains the age of 72. Although the Committee may feel that H.R. 13499 is too broad-it should be noted that to discriminate against those veterans to whom pension payments are a livelihood because other veterans have fared better and are economically secure without pension increases is not to satisfy our responsibility in this area.

In the case of federal workers, Congress has recognized the necessity for cost-ofliving adjustments and has passed legislation from time to time to compensate for the rising pressures of inflation. Congress, therefore, cannot in good conscience delay action on bills relating to the liberalization of veterans' pensions. It is my sincere hope that the members of this Committee give their full attention to these measures remembering the long-standing debt owed by us all to our forgotten warriors.

As a

STATEMENT BY THE HONORABLE WILLIAM H. HARSHA, A REPRESENTATIVE IN

CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF Ohio Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to make a statement in behalf of my bill, H.R. 13257. This bill would restore non-service-connected veterans pensions which have been reduced or eliminated because of the receipt of Social Security benefits.

Last year, when the badly needed increase in cash Social Security benefits was enacted, many of our veterans and/or their widows were moved into a higher income bracket. Since non-service-connected pensions are based on income limitations, some of our ex-servicemen and their widows had their pensions reduced or terminated entirely.

Let me cite an example: One widow in my district received a four-dollar increase in her monthly Social Security payments. This caused her outside income, for purposes of computing her veterans pension, to be over $600. result, her veterans pension, which had been $64 a month, was reduced to $48 per month, resulting in a net loss of $12 per month in her total income.

This is not an isolated case, but has unfortunately occurred in a great number of instances, resulting in undue hardship to those required to live on meager fixed incomes.

Most of the group whose pensions have been cut are disabled, are on limited incomes, and are in their advanced years. A reduction in their pensions is a real hardship, and the situation should be corrected.

Social Security payments are based on the individual's working years, while veterans' pensions based on the individual's sacrifices for his country. I feel that Social Security payments should have no effect on veterans. Our pensioned veterans has merited this consideration.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I wish to urge the Committee to take prompt and favorable action on my bill in order that the Congress may correct this present injustice before Congress adjourns.

Mr. Dorn. Nothing further; the subcommittee will be adjourned until 10 o'clock tomorrow.

(Whereupon, at 11:10 a.m., the subcommittee adjourned.)

PENSION LEGISLATION

WEDNESDAY, JULY 20, 1966

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON COMPENSATION AND PENSIONS
OF THE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS,

Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to adjournment, in room 356, Cannon House Office Building, at 10 a.m., Hon. Horace R. Kornegay (acting chairman) presiding.

Mr. KORNEGAY. The hearings will now come to order.

I see in the hearing room our good colleague, Mr. Denton, from the State of Indiana. Again let me say that we want to welcome you to the subcommittee and recognize and realize your long and very deep interest in matters relating to veterans' affairs and veterans' pensions and your repeated appearances before this committee in urging it to liberalize the pension programs of the country. We welcome you to the committee and are anxious to hear what you have to say.

STATEMENT OF HON. WINFIELD K. DENTON, A REPRESENTATIVE

IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF INDIANA

Mr. DENTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I want to apologize for coming in today. Yesterday I had to go to a meeting at the White House. By the time I got back here the committee had adjourned.

I want to speak on behalf of five bills I introduced, just to sum the bills up roughly. The first one would increase the limitation across the board to $3,618 for non-service-connected disabilities. That is for the veteran himself, his widow, or dependent children in case he is dead, and increases the amount they receive.

The second one increases the compensation down the line for service-connected disabilities.

The third increases the amount under the old law where they get $78.75 now. Another one does away with the corpus

of estate limitation. And the fifth is the bill that I have introduced a number of times. That is a pension for the veterans of World War I.

The substance of why I am introducing these bills is that they are nothing but cost-of-living increases. We have recognized the fact that the cost of living has gone up. We have raised the pay of Government employees. We have raised the retired compensation of Government employees. We have increased social security benefits. We are going to increase railroad retirement. We have made a slight increase in service-connected disabilities. But I do not think

4521

it is adequate. The people simply cannot live on the pensions that they receive.

We have veterans from World War I with a limitation on the amount of income that they can receive. That was fixed back about 1930, somewhere before or after that, at $1,000 and $2,500. That was the amount of exemption for income taxes at that time. It was thought a man paying income tax should not receive a pension.

The cost of living has gone up and the amount of income, $3,000 top they may receive now, is grossly inadequate compared to the $2,500 back 30, 40 years ago. You put a man in this position: A veteran cannot live on his pension. But if he goes to work and makes a little money and does some odd job and goes over the limitation, then he cannot get his pension. You put him in a position where he has to try to live off his pension and live inadequately.

I think that the men have to eat. This is something we have taken care of with everybody else and I think we ought to take care of it for the veteran, a man who served his country in time of war.

I introduced a bill for the veterans of World War I. I introduced this bill a number of times. When you get down to it, it really is not much of a change in the law. Now we have done away with the 10 percent disability if a man is over 65. It is just a question of income limitation. If you raise it to $3,600 that would help a great deal. We do have this fact, that with social security and other pensions if a man is 72 the income limitation does not apply. The veterans of World War I are now at an average age of 72 or more. If you treated them like you do social security or other cases, there would be no need for the limitation.

World War I has been over practically 50 years. In no other war has the veteran waited so long before he received a general pension. It is true that World War I was short lived but the veterans in that war were thrown into battle without much preparation. That was so because of the Germans making a drive and we did not have the facilities to train soldiers we have now and the casualties were extremely high even though a comparatively small number got into the conflict. However, they were there and ready for that purpose. I say time is running out on the veterans of World War I. I think it will not be a great deal longer we can pay these pensions to them. Their widows are another question. Certainly their widows ought to be taken care of, too. But we do not have the problem of the widows that we have with the men themselves. I do think that the widows' income certainly should be increased. I hope that you will give serious consideration to the bill. When I talk of our legislative record I can tell everybody we have done something to correct a situation and we have improved it.

I can tell most everybody we have done something for them lately, but the veterans. I can say that for those with service-connected disabilities. We have done something for them. On these other cases, I think we should. It is very desirable that we increase these pensions in accordance with the cost of living, like we have done with everything else.

Thank you very much.
Mr. KORNEGAY. Thank you very much, Mr. Denton.
Mr. Roberts, do you have a question?

Mr. ROBERTS. No questions, but I appreciate getting to see our distinguished colleague again. I appreciate what he has done for the veterans in the past.

It's nice to have you back.
Mr. KORNEGAY. Mr. Fino?

Mr. Fino. I just want to compliment the gentleman for his presentation here this morning. I fully agree with him. As a matt of fact, I am very much concerned about the lack of interest that we have shown to our widows and veterans in this country and yet we pump millions of dollars into foreign aid, into these foreign countries that do not appreciate it and even criticize us for giving too little. I think we should take some of this money we spend for foreign aid and give it to our widows and veterans in this country and not our ungrateful friends overseas.

Mr. KORNEGAY. Mr. Hanley?

Mr. HANLEY. Mr. Chairman, I, too, want to commend our colleague for his very fine statement, for his understanding of the plight of the veteran of World War I. I take recognition of his remark that time is running out. I think that this fact alone indicates the necessity that we accelerate whatever program we are going to have that will eradicate the inequity that the veterans of World War I have endured.

Mr. DENTON. Thank you very much.

Mr. KORNEGAY. We certainly appreciate your coming by. I think your experience with the subcommittee and knowledge of us as individuals assures you that you will get serious consideration of the fine points you have made here this morning.

Mr. Denton. Thank you very much. I am sorry I was not here yesterday.

(Mr. Ďenton's prepared statement follows:) FURTHER STATEMENT By Hon. WINFIELD K. DENTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN

CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF INDIANA Mr. Chairman and members of the committee: It is a pleasure to once again appear before you to speak in behalf of those men who gave of themselves in this country's time of need. And before I go further I want to thank you for what you have done for our veterans in the past. But I feel that I must say in all honesty that we have not done enough.

Just last week we approved pay increases for our military personnel and for other government employees. The cost of living is increasing, gentlemen, and we simply cannot be niggardly with those who have done so much to maintain the freedom of this country.

I will not go into the details of the various bills I have introduced, gentlemen, trusting that you have made yourselves familiar with their provisions. In brief summary what I have asked for is an increase in both service connected and nonservice connected disability pensions; the exclusion of computation of a corpus of estate for pension purposes; and increase in income limitations for both veterans and their wives; and a separate pension for the veterans of World War I.

Basically what I have done through the measures I introduced is to try to compensate our veterans and their dependents and survivors in accordance with today's living standards.

We have seen to it that the cost of living increase over the years has been taken care of in increased payments for those people dependent upon social security and there is legislation pending to do the same for railroad retirees. We have adjusted the pay of government employees and those receiving welfare assistance on numerous occasions. We constantly adjust the pay of those men serving in our Armed Forces. Private industry has taken care of its employees by and large. The government should do as well for the veterans. Their cost of living has increased and their pensions and compensations should be increased accordingly. It is inequitable not to do so.

Passage of a special pension for the veterans of World War I is, I feel, imperative if we are to provide for these veterans, and their survivors, a decent, dignified existence in return for what they did for their country. Those men were thrown into battle, in many cases ill equipped and poorly trained, and they did a yeoman's job in stemming the tide of the German armies in France. We remember the battles they fought, but we seem to have forgotten the men that fought them.

As these men grow older ... the average age of the veterans of World War I is now 72

they become less and less able to provide for themselves and their families. If we do not at least start paying off the tremendous debt we owe these men we will soon find that it is too late.

World War I drew to a close almost 50 years ago. No other veterans of any war in this Nation's history have waited so long for a distinct and separate pension.

I believe fully that what I have asked for these men is a mere pittance with regard to what they did for us. They were special men, in special times, and I feel they deserve a special consideration when it comes to pensions.

I want to be brief, gentlemen, so I'll close with just this one more sentence. A question, really.

Do you feel you could live today on the pensions we are now paying these veterans and their dependents?

Mr. KORNEGAY. We're happy to have you any time.

We are happy to have as our next witness our old friend from the State of Rhode Island, Mr. James McElroy. He represents the United Spanish War Veterans before the Congress with great dignity and ability. In addition to his sense of humor and recognition of the limitations under which all of us must work, he has endeared himself to the members of this committee. We are happy to welcome you, Mr. McElroy. You may proceed at this time and introduce any other of your colleagues and associates you have with you.

STATEMENT OF JAMES MCELROY, ON BEHALF OF UNITED

SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR VERTERANS Mr. McElroy. I wish to thank the committee for this opportunity to put in our appearance and put in a request on H.R. 7009 to benefit our widows. We have had no benefits for several years and have only got a few years to go until we are all out of the picture.

I introduce Mr. Harry Hoover, our commander in chief from St. Paul-Minneapolis. He came in with the Governor of Minnesota last night by plane; Mrs. Mary Cone, she is the liaison officer between the women's auxiliary and the parent organization. Sam Black is from Chicago, a past commander in chief. You might say he is from the West Side in Chicago, where we have to watch them." Sam Hutchinson, he is one of the natives from lower down in Virginia.

The first man, according to our schedule, we would like to have Mr. Hoover, our commander in chief, say a few words.

Mr. KORNEGAY. All right.

Mr. Hoover, we certainly welcome you and welcome your statement at this time.

STATEMENT OF HARRY H. HOOVER, COMMANDER IN CHIEF

UNITED SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR VETERANS Mr. Hoover. Honorable Members of Congress, I thank you for providing me with the opportunity to deliver my message concerning our bill, H.R. 7009, United Spanish-American War Veterans widows pension bill.

« PreviousContinue »