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111th Congress Report
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
1st Session 111-56
VETERANS' COMPENSATION COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENT ACT OF 2009
March 26, 2009.--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. 1513]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]
The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred
the bill (H.R. 1513) to increase, effective as of December 1,
2009, the rates of disability compensation for veterans with
service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and
indemnity compensation for survivors of certain service-
connected 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............ 5
New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures 6
Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits............................. 6
Committee Cost Estimate.......................................... 6
Congressional Budget Office 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. 1513 was introduced on March 16, 2009, by
Representative Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona. This legislation
would increase, effective December 1, 2009, 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. The legislation would
require the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs
(VA) to increase, effective December 1, 2009, the rates of and
limitations on certain benefits paid by VA by the same
percentage as the cost-of-living adjustment (hereinafter, 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
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
(a) Surviving spouses of veterans whose deaths were
(b) Surviving spouses for dependent children below the age
(c) Surviving spouses who are so disabled that they need
aid and attendance or are permanently housebound;
(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. 1513 would increase, effective December 1, 2009, 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 2009, the cost-
of-living increase for VA disability compensation and DIC
compensation, enacted in accordance with Public Law 110-324
(122 Stat. 3549), was 5.8 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 prorated 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 $1,146 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 2009
budget, the VA indicated that veteran termination data has
demonstrated that survivors typically access compensation
benefits within three years.
H.R. 1513 would direct VA to compute and provide increases
in the monthly rates of compensation and DIC, effective
December 1, 2009. 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 Committee has followed its prior practice of setting
the COLA for veterans' benefits by reference to the increase to
be provided for Social Security recipients. The rate of this
increase will be established on December 1, 2009. The Committee
believes that this is the most equitable means of providing
increases to these important veterans' benefits.
There were no hearings held in connection to the bill
reported by the Committee.
On March 25, 2009, the full Committee met in open markup
session, a quorum being present, and ordered H.R. 1513
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. 1513 reported to the House. A motion by Mr.
Buyer of Indiana to order H.R. 1513 reported favorably to the
House of Representatives was agreed to by voice vote.
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. 1513 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.
1513 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. 1513 provided by the Congressional Budget Office
pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, March 25, 2009.
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. 1513, the
Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2009.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Dwayne
Douglas W. Elmendorf,
H.R. 1513--Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2009
H.R. 1513 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, 2009, 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, pursuant to 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) and extended to 2013 by the Veterans
Benefits Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-183). Furthermore, based
on its current economic forecast, CBO does not anticipate a
cost-of-living increase in 2010 for Social Security; thus, CBO
estimates that enacting this bill would have no impact on
spending for those programs.
H.R. 1513 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
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Dwayne M.
Wright. This estimate was approved by Theresa A. Gullo, Deputy
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
FEDERAL MANDATES STATEMENT
The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal
mandates regarding H.R. 1513 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. 1513 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. 1513 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. 1513 would require the Secretary of
Veterans Affairs to increase, effective December 1, 2009 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 section 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 section 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.
Sec. 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. 1513 would require the Secretary of
Veterans Affairs to publish in the Federal Register the amounts
specified in subsection (b), as increased pursuant to that