Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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House agreed to Senate amendment with amendment (10/03/1992)

Veterans' Benefits Act of 1992 - Title I: Reform of the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Program - Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Reform Act of 1992 - Revises the formula for the computation of dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) for surviving spouses of veterans to make each payment a flat $750 monthly, increased by $165 monthly for the survivor of a veteran rated totally disabled for at least eight continuous years while married to the surviving spouse. Provides that, for the payment of DIC to the surviving spouses of veterans who died before January 1, 1993, the monthly rate shall be the higher amount under the current or revised formula.

Increases for FY 1993 and thereafter the additional rate of DIC paid to a surviving spouse for each child of the veteran under age 18. Makes all of the above increases effective as of January 1, 1993. Provides funding for such DIC increases.

Makes a provision of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, which prohibits the payment of DIC or death pension to a surviving spouse of a veteran who subsequently remarries, inapplicable to any case in which a legal proceeding to terminate such subsequent marriage was commenced before November 1, 1990, by an individual who would be considered the surviving spouse but for such remarriage.

Directs the Comptroller General to report to the Senate and House Veterans' Affairs Committees (veterans' committees) with respect to the most appropriate combination of financial, educational, health-care, and other benefits to meet the needs of survivors of veterans.

Title II: Life Insurance Programs - Increases the maximum amount of Servicemen's Group Life Insurance authorized to be carried by a veteran from $100,000 to $200,000 in additional increments of $10,000. Increases to $200,000 the authorized amount of Veterans' Group Life Insurance and makes it renewable on a five-year basis (currently, nonrenewable).

Provides eligibility for up to $20,000 in additional Service Disabled Veterans' Insurance (SDVI) for totally disabled veterans who qualify for a waiver of premiums for coverage under SDVI due to the total disability rating.

Increases from $40,000 to $90,000 the maximum amount of Veterans' Mortgage Life Insurance.

Makes all increases under this title effective as of December 1, 1992.

Title III: Educational Assistance Programs - Increases the rates of educational assistance payable under the Montgomery GI Bill active-duty and reserve educational assistance (MGIB) programs. Increases such amounts after FY 1993 by the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for a specified period. Makes such increases effective as of April 1, 1993.

Provides basic veterans' educational assistance entitlement for regular and Selected Reserve members who were on active duty at any time during the period between October 19, 1984, and July 1, 1985 (currently, continuous service within such period is required) and who meet certain other requirements after June 30, 1985. Makes such entitlement revision applicable as of October 28, 1986.

Allows an individual who was on active duty on August 2, 1990, and who completes the requirements of a secondary school diploma (or equivalency certificate) before 24 months after the enactment of this Act to be considered to have completed such requirements within his or her initial obligated period of active duty, thus qualifying for such educational assistance after release or discharge from active duty. (Current law requires completion of school diploma requirements during the initial active duty period.) Provides an identical extension of such diploma completion requirements in the case of members of the Selected Reserve. Requires the Secretary of each military department to notify individuals who have not met the diploma requirements of the extension of such periods under this Act.

Provides that an individual who, during an initial period of active duty, commences pursuit of education at a service academy or a school in preparation for a service academy, fails to complete such education, and reenters active duty shall be deemed to have served a continuous period of active duty which includes the period of such education, for purposes of MGIB program eligibility. Makes such provision effective as if enacted on June 30, 1985, and applied to educational assistance pursued on or after FY 1993.

Provides that a period during which an MGIB participant is assigned full-time by the armed forces to a civilian institution for a course of education shall not be considered a break in continuous active duty of such individual for purposes of MGIB eligibility.

Provides that individuals who are discharged or released after 12 months or less of continuous active duty and who later reenlist or reenter on active duty are eligible to resume participation in the MGIB program as if they had served a continuous period of active duty.

Provides that an individual who initially serves a continuous period of active duty of at least three years, even though his or her initial obligation was for less than three years, is eligible for the same amount of educational assistance provided to an individual whose initial period of obligated active duty was for three years or more.

Provides a death benefit to the survivor of an individual entitled to basic educational assistance who dies within one year after discharge or release from active duty (currently, who dies while on active duty) in the amount of unused educational assistance.

Allows individuals who first entered onto active duty in the armed forces between July 1, 1985, and June 30, 1988, who served on active duty continuously during such service, and who, between December 1, 1988, and June 30, 1989, chose not to participate in the MGIB program, the opportunity to withdraw the election not to participate when separated due to a physical or mental condition that interferes with the individual's performance of duty.

Authorizes the use of MGIB program assistance for tuition and fees charged for, or attributable to, solo flying hours for active-duty and reserve members and under the post-Vietnam Era veterans' educational assistance program. Limits, in each instance, the number of solo flying hours for which a person may be paid such assistance to the minimum number of solo flying hours required by the Federal Aviation Administration for the flight rating or certification goal.

Limits the advance payment of the work-study allowance to the first 50 hours of each work-study contract.

Excludes elementary and secondary schools from a Federal provision requiring an educational institution to furnish a copy of its catalog when applying for approval of an accredited course by a State approving agency (SAA). Requires schools that have and enforce standards of attendance to submit such standards to the SAA for approval.

Authorizes a State to approve (for veterans' educational assistance purposes) the courses offered by an educational institution when such courses are approved by the State as meeting the requirements of regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services under specified provisions of the Social Security Act relating to the approval of nurse aide courses.

Prohibits the approval of a course of education which has not been approved by a SAA if such course is to be pursued in whole or in part by independent study. Prohibits approval of enrollment of a veteran in an independent study program except an accredited program leading to a standard college degree. Prohibits such approval also for survivors and dependents enrolling in a nonaccredited independent study program. Provides a savings provision for persons currently enrolled in such programs.

Waives the right of recovery of an advance payment made to a veteran for the receipt of educational assistance if the failure to enroll in or pursue a course of education under the program is due to the death of the veteran.

Bars the payment of veterans' educational assistance for a course paid for under the Government Employees Training Act. (Currently, such payment is barred only if the person's full salary is being paid to him or her during such training education.)

Reduces, for purposes of eligibility in the veterans' or survivors' and dependents' educational assistance programs, the number of clock hours of attendance required for institutional trade or technical courses not leading to a standard college degree to be considered a full-time course, and therefore eligible for participation in the programs. Provides that a course not leading to a standard college degree from an educational institution on a quarter- or semester-hour basis and offered by an entity that is not an institution of higher learning shall not be considered to be full-time if it requires less than the weekly minimum hours of full-time attendance required for institutional trade or technical courses measured on a clock hour basis.

Allows as a change of program for purposes of the veterans' educational assistance program: (1) a change of program after the veteran has completed the first program; (2) a second program which leads to a vocational, educational, or professional objective in the same general field as the first program; (3) a second program when the first program is a prerequisite to the second program; and (4) a change from a subsequent program to the former program when the veteran or other eligible person resumes pursuit of such program without loss of credit or standing in the former program.

Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to approve individualized tutorial assistance (tutoring) to any person entitled to regular educational assistance who: (1) is enrolled in and pursuing postsecondary education on a half-time or more basis; and (2) has a deficiency in a subject required for, prerequisite to, or indispensable to the program of education being pursued. Directs the Secretary of the military department concerned to pay a tutorial assistance allowance to persons receiving such tutoring at a rate not to exceed $100 per month or a maximum of $1,200. Requires the educational institution at which the person is enrolled to make certain certifications with respect to such tutoring before such allowance may be paid. Provides that a person's entitlement to basic educational assistance shall be charged for such tutorial assistance only for that amount which exceeds $600.

Requires apprenticeship or on-job training establishments to certify the hours completed by an individual under the MGIB for members of the Selected Reserve.

Title IV: Vocational Rehabilitation and Pension Programs - Makes permanent after January 31, 1985 (currently, only for the period beginning February 1, 1985, and ending on January 31, 1992) a program of 12-month trial work periods and vocational rehabilitation outreach for veterans who have total disability ratings based on unemployability.

Requires the Secretary, with respect to a veteran under age 45 who is awarded a pension during the vocational training program period, to make a preliminary finding as to whether such veteran, with the assistance of the training program, has a good potential for achieving employment. Requires the Secretary to solicit an application from such veteran for such training program if good potential is found and to evaluate whether the achievement of a vocational goal is reasonably foreseeable. Extends the temporary vocational training program through calendar year 1995. Eliminates the limitation on the number of participants who may be evaluated annually. Makes permanent (currently ends three years after the end of the original program period) the three-year protection from reduction in Department health-care eligibility for veterans who lose their pension due to employment income after successful completion of vocation training.

Provides eligibility for vocational rehabilitation for veterans with a service-connected disability rated at ten percent or more who have a serious employment handicap (as determined by the Secretary).

Increases by specified amounts (dependent upon the number of dependents) the subsistence allowance for veterans receiving vocational or rehabilitative training. Requires such amounts to be increased for fiscal years beginning on or after FY 1994 by specified percentages equal to the percentage increases in the Consumer Price Index for a specified prior period.

Title V: Job Counseling, Training, and Placement Services for Veterans - Requires funds to be made available to a State to support the appointment of a disabled veterans' outreach program (DVOP) specialist for veterans who first entered on active duty after May 7, 1975. (Currently, such specialists represent only Vietnam-era veterans and disabled veterans.)

Repeals the December 31, 1994, delimiting date after which a veteran may not be considered to be a veteran of the Vietnam era for purposes of eligibility for the Vietnam veterans' disabled outreach program.

Requires a first priority, in the services provided by DVOP specialists, for "special disabled veterans," meaning those released or discharged from service due to a service-connected disability, those having a service-connected disability rated at 30 percent or more, or those having a service-employment handicap rated at ten or 20 percent.

Removes the requirement that veterans' organizations need to be federally chartered in order to be represented on the Advisory Committee on Veterans Employment and Training.

Expands eligibility for the veterans' readjustment program (a program providing Federal employment opportunities for veterans) to include all Vietnam era veterans (currently includes Vietnam era veterans with service-connected disabilities or those having received campaign badges for active-duty service in a campaign or expedition). Extends the veterans' readjustment appointment program through December 31, 1995.

Redesignates certain Federal veterans' benefits provisions, repealing such redesignations if the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1992 is enacted before the date of enactment of this Act.

Title VI: Other Veterans' Programs - Extends through FY 1997 (currently 1992) the authority for the Department to limit the monthly pension payable to a veteran having neither spouse nor child and receiving nursing home care without charge under title XIX (Medicaid) of the Social Security Act. Provides that, during the period beginning November 1, 1992, and ending September 30, 1997, the amount of such pension reduction shall be deposited in a revolving fund at the Department medical facility that furnished nursing care to the veteran, to be used to pay facility operating expenses.

Extends through FY 1997 the authority of the Secretary to receive personal income data from the Internal Revenue Service for income verification purposes for veterans receiving benefits through the Department on a needs basis.

Amends the Right of Financial Privacy Act of 1978 to state that information protection provisions of such Act shall not apply to the disclosure by a financial institution of the name and address of any customer to the Department where such disclosure is necessary, and such information is used solely for, the administration of Department compensation and pension benefits. Allows the Secretary to make such a request when such information: (1) is necessary for administration purposes; and (2) cannot be secured by a reasonable search of records and information of the Department. Requires the Secretary to include a certification of such determinations in each request presented to a financial institution.

Extends through July 31, 1994, the authority of the Department to be reimbursed by a third party for the cost of care and services provided to a veteran for a non-service-connected disability to the extent that such veteran would be eligible to receive payment from such third party for such care or services if they had not been provided by a Federal department or agency.

Excludes from a prescription medication copayment requirement those veterans having an income level which, if taken alone, would qualify them for a Department non-service-connected disability pension.

Extends through FY 1997 the authority of the Department to charge a $2 fee for a 3-day supply of prescription drugs furnished on an outpatient basis to certain veterans for the treatment of non-service-connected disabilities. Amends the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 to also extend through FY 1997 copayments required of certain veterans receiving care for non-service-connected disabilities whose incomes exceed specified thresholds.