(PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.)
111th Congress Report
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
2d Session 111-452
VETERANS' COMPENSATION COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENT ACT OF 2010
March 22, 2010.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the
State of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. Filner, from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, submitted the
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 4667]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]
The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred
the bill (H.R. 4667) to increase, effective as of December 1,
2010, the rates of compensation for veterans with service-
connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and
indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled
veterans, and for other purposes, having considered the same,
report favorably thereon without amendment and recommend that
the bill do pass.
Purpose and Summary.............................................. 2
Background and Need for Legislation.............................. 2
Committee Consideration.......................................... 5
Committee Votes.................................................. 5
Committee Oversight Findings..................................... 5
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............ 6
New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures 6
Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits............................. 6
Committee Cost Estimate.......................................... 6
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................ 6
Federal Mandates Statement....................................... 7
Advisory Committee Statement..................................... 7
Constitutional Authority Statement............................... 7
Applicability to Legislative Branch.............................. 7
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation................... 7
PURPOSE AND SUMMARY
H.R. 4667 was introduced on February 23, 2010, by
Representative Thomas S. P. Perriello of Virginia. This
legislation would increase, effective December 1, 2010, the
rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected
disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity
compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans.
Accordingly, it would require the Secretary of the Department
of Veterans Affairs (VA) to increase, effective December 1,
2010, the rates of and limitations on certain benefits paid by
VA by the same percentage as the cost-of-living adjustment
(COLA) provided to Social Security recipients and VA pension
beneficiaries that become effective on the same date.
The COLA would apply to:
1. Basic compensation rates for veterans with
service-connected disabilities and the rates payable
for certain severe disabilities;
2. The allowance for spouses, children, and dependent
parents paid to service-connected disabled veterans
rated 30 percent or more disabled;
3. The annual clothing allowance paid to veterans
whose compensable disability requires the use of a
prosthetic or orthopedic appliance (including a
wheelchair) that tends to tear or wear out clothing, or
requires the use of a medication prescribed by a
physician for a service-connected skin condition if the
medication causes irreparable damage to the veteran's
outer garments; and,
4. The dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC)
rates paid to:
(a) Surviving spouses of veterans whose
deaths were service-connected;
(b) Surviving spouses for dependent children
below the age of 18;
(c) Surviving spouses who are so disabled
that they need aid and attendance or are
(d) Surviving spouses covered under section
1318 of title 38, United States Code; and
(e) the children of veterans whose deaths
were service-connected if no surviving spouse
is entitled to DIC, the child is age 18 through
22 and attending an approved educational
institution, or the child is age 18 or over and
became permanently incapable of self-support
prior to reaching age 18.
BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION
H.R. 4667 would increase, effective December 1, 2010, the
rates of compensation for service-connected disabilities and
the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for
surviving spouses and children of veterans who die of service-
connected causes, as well as the additional amounts for
dependents and survivors and clothing allowance for certain
veterans. Congress has provided annual increases in these rates
every fiscal year since 1976. For fiscal year 2010, the cost-
of-living increase for VA disability compensation and DIC
compensation, enacted in accordance with Public Law 111-37 (123
Stat. 1927) was 0.0 percent. The Congressional Budget Office
(CBO) is estimating that the COLA effective on December 1,
2010, will be 0.1 percent.
The service-connected disability compensation program under
chapter 11 of title 38, United States Code, provides monthly
cash benefits to veterans who have a disability or combination
of disabilities incurred or aggravated during active duty in
the Armed Forces. The purpose of the disability compensation
program is to represent the average loss in earnings capacity.
The amount of compensation paid depends on the nature and
severity of the veteran's disability or combination of
disabilities and an assessment of the extent to which the
disability impairs earnings capacity. To be eligible to receive
disability compensation, a veteran's disability must not be the
result of willful misconduct, and the veteran must have been
discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. The
responsibility for determining a veteran's entitlement to
service-connection for a disability and the amount of said
compensation rests with the VA.
VA rates compensable disabilities according to its Schedule
for Rating Disabilities on a graduated scale ranging from 0 to
100 percent, in 10 percent increments. VA pays higher monthly
rates (known as ``special monthly compensation'') to totally
disabled veterans with certain specific, very severe
disabilities or combinations of disabilities.
A veteran with a disability rated at 30 percent or more may
receive additional compensation on behalf of the veteran's
spouse, children, and dependent parents. These dependents'
allowances are pro-rated according to the percentage of
Dependency and indemnity compensation
Surviving spouses and dependent children of veterans who
died of disabilities determined by VA to be service-connected
(including veterans who died while on active duty) or who had a
service-connected disability rated at 100 percent for certain
periods of time prior to death are entitled to receive monthly
DIC benefits. The purpose of DIC authorized under chapter 13 of
title 38, United States Code, is to provide compensation to the
appropriate survivors for the loss of financial support as a
result of the service-connected death of the veteran.
VA pays DIC to the survivors of servicemembers or veterans
who died on or after January 1, 1957, from a disease or injury
incurred or aggravated during military service. Survivors
eligible for DIC include surviving spouses, unmarried children
under the age of 18, children age 18 or older who are
permanently incapable of self-support, children between the
ages of 18 and 22 who are enrolled in school, and certain needy
parents. Under section 5312 of title 38, United States Code,
parents' DIC rates are adjusted automatically at the same time
and by the same percentage as Social Security and VA pension
benefits. Surviving spouses, children, and parents who are
receiving death compensation based on deaths before January 1,
1957, may elect to receive DIC instead of death compensation.
For deaths prior to January 1, 1993, surviving spouses received
DIC at rates determined by the pay grade (service rank) of the
deceased veteran. For deaths on or after January 1, 1993,
surviving spouses currently receive $1154 per month and, if the
deceased veteran was totally disabled for eight years prior to
death, an additional $246 per month. Surviving spouses who had
been receiving benefits under the prior DIC program are paid
under whichever program will pay the higher benefit.
A surviving spouse who is so disabled as to be housebound
or in need of regular aid and attendance is eligible to receive
an additional amount. A surviving spouse also may receive
additional allowances on behalf of the veteran's surviving
Children are entitled to DIC if there is no surviving
spouse, if they are 18 years of age or older and became
permanently incapable of self-support before reaching age 18,
or if they are 18 to 22 years old and pursuing an approved
course of education.
Parents of deceased veterans whose incomes are below
statutorily prescribed income thresholds are eligible for DIC
under section 1315 of title 38, United States Code. As
previously mentioned, parents' DIC rates are adjusted
automatically at the same time and by the same percentage as
Social Security and VA pension benefits.
Under section 1318 of title 38, United States Code, VA pays
benefits at DIC rates to the surviving spouses and children of
veterans whose deaths are not service-connected if the veteran,
immediately prior to his or her death, had been receiving (or
had been entitled to receive) compensation at the 100 percent
rate continuously for 10 or more years or for at least five
years from the date of discharge or release from active duty.
VA also pays DIC benefits to the surviving spouses and children
of veterans who were former prisoners of war who die after
September 30, 1999, and whose deaths were not service-connected
if the veterans had been receiving (or had been entitled to
receive) compensation at the 100 percent rate continuously for
not less than one year preceding death. In its fiscal year 2010
budget, the VA indicates that veteran termination data has
demonstrated that survivors typically access compensation
benefits within three years.
H.R. 4667 would direct VA to compute and provide increases
in the monthly rates of compensation and DIC, effective
December 1, 2010. The rates would be increased by the same
percentage as the Social Security and VA pension COLA that will
take effect on that date. In accordance with section 8031 of
the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Public Law 105-33 (111 Stat.
251, 668), amounts of compensation so computed that are not
even multiples of $1 will be rounded down to the next lower
whole dollar amount. The Veterans Benefits Act of 2003, Public
Law 108-183 (117 Stat. 2651, 2672) extended this provision for
an additional two years to 2013.
The increases in DIC automatically would result in
identical percentage increases in benefits paid at DIC rates
under section 1318 of title 38, United States Code, to the
surviving spouses and children of veterans who had a service-
connected disability at the time of death for which they
continuously were rated totally disabled for at least (1) 10
years, (2) five years from the date of discharge from active
duty, or (3) one year if the veteran was a former prisoner of
war who died after September 30, 1999, and whose death was not
service-connected if the veteran had been receiving (or had
been entitled to receive) compensation at the 100 percent rate
continuously for not less than one year preceding death.
Under section 156(e)(1)(A) of Public Law 97-377 (96 Stat.
1830, 1920-1921), the DIC increases also automatically would
result in the same percentage increases in Social Security
benefits that were terminated by section 2205 of the Omnibus
Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 (OBRA 1981), Public Law 97-35
(95 Stat. 483, 837). Prior to OBRA 1981, those benefits had
been paid to certain surviving spouses of those who died on
active duty or from a service-connected disability on behalf of
their children under 18 and children over age 19 who were
secondary-school students; OBRA 1981 reduced the eligibility
cutoff age from 18 to 16 years old.
Section 314 of the Veterans' Benefits and Services Act of
1988, Public Law 100-322 (102 Stat. 487, 535) amended section
156(a)(1) of Public Law 97-377 to restore the benefits
eliminated by OBRA 1981. The DIC increase also would apply to
these restored benefits, effective December 1, 2000.
The CBO, in its most recent baseline, estimated that the
Social Security COLA affecting fiscal year 2010 payments, and
thus the COLA provided for by the Committee bill, will be 0.1
percent. The actual Social Security COLA could differ from this
estimate. Rather than selecting any particular percentage
adjustment at the time the Committee ordered the bill reported,
the Committee followed its prior practice of setting the COLA
by reference to the Social Security increase. The Committee
believes this is the most equitable means of providing
increases in these important service-connected benefits.
There were no hearings held in connection to the bill
favorably reported by the Committee.
On March 10, 2010, the full Committee met in open markup
session, a quorum being present, and ordered H.R. 4667
favorably reported to the House of Representatives, by voice
Clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of
Representatives requires the Committee to list the record votes
on the motion to report the legislation and amendments thereto.
There were no record votes taken on amendments or in connection
with ordering H.R. 4667 reported to the House. A motion by Mr.
Henry Brown of South Carolina to order H.R. 4667 reported
favorably to the House of Representatives was agreed to by
COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS
In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause
(2)(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of
Representatives, the Committee's oversight findings and
recommendations are reflected in the descriptive portions of
STATEMENT OF GENERAL PERFORMANCE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
In accordance with clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules
of the House of Representatives, the Committee's performance
goals and objectives are reflected in the descriptive portions
of this report.
NEW BUDGET AUTHORITY, ENTITLEMENT AUTHORITY, AND TAX EXPENDITURES
In compliance with clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules
of the House of Representatives, the Committee adopts as its
own the estimate of new budget authority, entitlement
authority, or tax expenditures or revenues contained in the
cost estimate prepared by the Director of the Congressional
Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional
Budget Act of 1974.
EARMARKS AND TAX AND TARIFF BENEFITS
H.R. 4667 does not contain any congressional earmarks,
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in
clause 9(d), 9(e), or 9(f) of rule XXI of the Rules of the
House of Representatives.
COMMITTEE COST ESTIMATE
The Committee adopts as its own the cost estimate on H.R.
4667 prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget
Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act
CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE
Pursuant to clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the
House of Representatives, the following is the cost estimate
for H.R. 4667 provided by the Congressional Budget Office
pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, March 12, 2010.
Hon. Bob Filner,
Chairman, Committee on Veterans' Affairs,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 4667, the
Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2010.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Dwayne M.
Douglas W. Elmendorf,
H.R. 4667--Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2010
H.R. 4667 would increase the amounts paid to veterans for
disability compensation and to their survivors for dependency
and indemnity compensation by the same cost-of-living
adjustment (COLA) payable to Social Security recipients. The
increase would take effect on December 1, 2010, and the
resulting adjustment would be rounded to the next lower dollar.
The COLA that would be authorized by this bill is assumed
in CBO's baseline, consistent with section 257 of the Balanced
Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act, and savings from
rounding it down were achieved by the Balanced Budget Act of
1997 (Public Law 105-33) as extended by the Veterans Benefits
Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-183).
Because the COLA is assumed in CBO's baseline, the COLA
provision would have no budgetary effect relative to the
baseline. Relative to current law, CBO estimates that enacting
this bill would increase spending for those programs by $50
million in fiscal year 2011. (The annualized cost would be
about $70 million in subsequent years.) This estimate assumes
that the COLA effective on December 1, 2010, would be 0.1
H.R. 4667 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal
Enacting H.R. 4667 would not affect direct spending or
revenues relative to CBO's baseline; therefore pay-as-you-go
procedures would not apply.
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Dwayne M.
Wright. The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
FEDERAL MANDATES STATEMENT
The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal
mandates regarding H.R. 4667 prepared by the Director of the
Congressional Budget Office pursuant to section 423 of the
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
ADVISORY COMMITTEE STATEMENT
No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b)
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act would be created by H.R.
CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT
Pursuant to clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the
House of Representatives, the Committee finds that the
Constitutional authority for H.R. 4667 is provided by Article
I, section 8 of the Constitution of the United States.
APPLICABILITY TO LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public
services or accommodations within the meaning of section
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act.
SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS OF THE LEGISLATION
Section 1. Short title
This section would provide the short title of H.R. 4667 as
the ``Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of
Section 2. Increase in rates of disability compensation and dependency
and indemnity compensation
Section 2(a) of H.R. 4667 would require the Secretary of
Veterans Affairs to increase, effective December 1, 2010, the
dollar amounts for the payment of disability compensation and
dependency and indemnity compensation.
Section 2(b) of the bill would specify the programs to
receive increased dollar amounts: compensation in effect under
section 1114 of title 38, United States Code; additional
compensation for dependents in effect under sections 1115(1) of
title 38, United States Code; clothing allowance in effect
under section 1162 of title 38, United States Code; Dependency
and Indemnity Compensation to Surviving Spouse under
subsections (a) through (d) of sections 1311 of title 38,
United States Code; and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
to Children--each of the dollar amounts under sections 1313(a)
and 1314 of title 38, United States Code.
Section 2(c)(1) of the bill would specify that each amount
shall be increased by the same percentage by which benefits are
increased under title II of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C.
401 et seq.).
Section 2(c)(2) of the bill would round down to the next
lower dollar amount all compensation and DIC benefits, when the
amount is not in the whole dollar amount.
Section 2(d) of the bill would provide a special rule
authorizing the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to adjust
administratively, consistent with the increases made under
subsection (a), the rates of disability compensation payable to
persons under section 10 of Public Law 85-857 (72 Stat. 1263),
who are not in receipt of compensation payable pursuant to
chapter 11 of title 38, United States Code.
Section 3. Publication of adjusted rates
Section 3 of H.R. 4667 would require the Secretary of
Veterans Affairs to publish in the Federal Register the amounts
specified in subsection (b), as increased pursuant to that