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107th Congress (2001-2002)
Senate Report 107-234
Senate Report 107-234 - VETERANS HEARING LOSS COMPENSATION ACT OF 2002
SECTION 106: EXTENSION OF INCOME VERIFICATION AUTHORITY
Section 106 would extend provisions which originated in Public Law 101-508, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, giving the Internal Revenue Service (hereinafter `IRS') authority to furnish income information to VA from IRS records. The Act required IRS to disclose to VA income information so that VA might determine eligibility for VA needs-based pension, parents' dependency and indemnity compensation, and VA health-care services.
In 1985, Committee member Murkowski requested that the General Accounting Office (hereinafter `GAO') review the accuracy of self-reported beneficiary income using certain income tax data maintained by IRS. The study found discrepancies between the income data the beneficiaries reported to VA and that reported to IRS in nearly half of the sample cases. S. Rept. No. 101-134 (1989). This review provided the impetus for the original legislation, intended to prevent the payment of needs-based benefits to claimants who under-report their income.
This provision, codified at Internal Revenue Code Sec. 6103(l)(7)(D)(viii), was authorized to remain in effect through September 30, 1992, by Public Law 101-508. In 1992, Public Law 102-568 extended the authority through September 30, 1997. Public Law 103-66 extended the authority to September 30, 1998, and in 1997, this authority was extended again through September 30, 2003, by Public Law 105-33.
Additional provisions of Public Law 101-508, codified at 38 U.S.C. Sec. 5317, provide parallel authority for VA to use IRS information and require VA to notify applicants for needs-based benefits that income information furnished by the applicant may be compared with the information obtained from the Departments of Health and Human Services and Treasury under Internal Revenue Code 6103(l)(7)(D)(viii). This parallel authority was originally in effect through September 30, 1992, pursuant to Public Law 101-508. In 1992, Public Law 102-568 extended the authority to September 30, 1997. In 1993, Public Law 103-66 extended it to September 30, 1998. In 1997, Public Law 105-33 extended the authority to September 30, 2002. The VA Secretary's authority to use IRS income data is now scheduled to expire on September 30, 2008, pursuant to Public Law 106-409.
Section 106(a) of the Committee bill would extend Internal Revenue Code Sec. 6103(l)(7)(D)(viii) until September 30, 2011, and section 106(b) would extend 38 U.S.C. 5317 until September 30, 2011.
Cost: CBO estimates that this provision will result in savings of $7 million in 2003, $76 million over 5-years, and $231 million over the 2004-2012 period.
SECTION 201: INCREASES THE AMOUNT OF FUNDING AUTHORIZED TO STATE APPROVING AGENCIES
Under chapter 36 of title 38, United States Code, State Approving Agencies (hereinafter `SAAs') assist VA in ensuring the quality and integrity of educational institutions and job-training establishments where veterans, spouses and eligible children use VA educational benefits. Recent legislation has expanded the number and types of learning opportunities available to veterans and other beneficiaries, thereby increasing the workload of the SAAs.
In 2000, Congress enacted Public Law 106-419, which allows veterans education benefits to be used for the payment of licensing and certification tests required for certain professions. SAAs evaluate and approve entities offering these tests. Public Law 107-103, enacted in 2001, expanded the definition of `educational institution' for Montgomery GI Bill (hereinafter `MGIB') payment eligibility to include certain private entities offering courses to advance trainees in high technology vocations. Public Law 107-103 also allowed the use of MGIB benefits to enroll in non-college degree programs offered by institutions of higher learning. SAAs are responsible for determining eligibility and approving such courses and programs. Under Public Law 107-103, SAAs also assumed greater veterans outreach responsibilities.
The last permanent increase in authorized funding for SAAs was in Public Law 103-446 for Fiscal Year 1995. Section 123 of Public Law 106-419 specified a temporary increase until the end of Fiscal Year 2002. Without Congressional action, the funding level will revert from $14 million to $13 million. SAA funding does not receive cost-of-living adjustments.
Section 201 would increase the amount authorized for SAA funding to $18 million through Fiscal Year 2005.
Cost: CBO estimates the cost will be $5 million in 2003, and $15 million over 2003-2005.