Text: S.1904 — 103rd Congress (1993-1994)All Information (Except Text)

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[Congressional Bills 103th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[S. 1904 Enrolled Bill (ENR)]

<DOC>

        S.1904

                       One Hundred Third Congress

                                 of the

                        United States of America


                          AT THE SECOND SESSION

          Begun and held at the City of Washington on Tuesday,
 the twenty-fifth day of January, one thousand nine hundred and ninety-
                                  four


                                 An Act

  
 
  To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the organization and 
procedures


                   of the Board of Veterans' Appeals.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Board of Veterans' Appeals 
Administrative Procedures Improvement Act of 1994''.

SEC. 2. NUMBER OF MEMBERS OF BOARD OF VETERANS' APPEALS.

    Section 7101(a) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by 
striking out ``(not more than 65)''.

SEC. 3. ETHICAL AND LEGAL LIMITATIONS ON CHAIRMAN.

    Section 7101(b)(1) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by 
inserting after the first sentence the following new sentence: ``The 
Chairman shall be subject to the same ethical and legal limitations and 
restrictions concerning involvement in political activities as apply to 
judges of the United States Court of Veterans Appeals.''.

SEC. 4. ACTING AND TEMPORARY MEMBERS OF BOARD OF VETERANS' APPEALS.

    (a) In General.--Subsection (c) of section 7101 of title 38, United 
States Code, is amended--
        (1) by striking out paragraph (1) and inserting in lieu thereof 
    the following:
    ``(1)(A) The Chairman may from time to time designate one or more 
employees of the Department to serve as acting members of the Board. 
Except as provided in subparagraph (B), any such designation shall be 
for a period not to exceed 90 days, as determined by the Chairman.
    ``(B) An individual designated as an acting member of the Board may 
continue to serve as an acting member of the Board in the making of any 
determination on a proceeding for which the individual was designated 
as an acting member of the Board, notwithstanding the termination of 
the period of designation of the individual as an acting member of the 
Board under subparagraph (A) or (C).
    ``(C) An individual may not serve as an acting member of the Board 
for more than 270 days during any one-year period.
    ``(D) At no time may the number of acting members exceed 20 percent 
of the total of the number of Board members and acting Board members 
combined.'';
        (2) by striking out paragraph (2);
        (3) by redesignating paragraph (3) as paragraph (2); and
        (4) in paragraph (2), as so redesignated, by striking out ``the 
    number of temporary Board members'' and all that follows through 
    the period at the end and inserting in lieu thereof ``the number of 
    acting members of the Board designated under such paragraph (1) 
    during the year for which the report is made.''.
    (b) Conforming Amendments.--(1) Subsection (e) of such section is 
amended by striking out ``a temporary or'' and inserting in lieu 
thereof ``an''.
    (2) Subsection (d)(3)(B) of such section is amended by striking 
``section 7103(d)'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``section 7101(a)''.

SEC. 5. CHAIRMAN'S ANNUAL REPORT ON BOARD ACTIVITIES.

    Section 7101(d)(2) of title 38, United States Code, is amended--
        (1) by striking out ``and'' at the end of subparagraph (D);
        (2) by striking out the period at the end of subparagraph (E) 
    and inserting in lieu thereof ``; and''; and
        (3) by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:
        ``(F) the number of employees of the Department designated 
    under subsection (c)(1) to serve as acting members of the Board 
    during that year and the number of cases in which each such member 
    participated during that year.''.

SEC. 6. DECISIONS BY THE BOARD.

    (a) Action By BVA.--Sections 7102 and 7103 of title 38, United 
States Code, are amended to read as follows:

``Sec. 7102. Assignment of members of Board

    ``(a) A proceeding instituted before the Board may be assigned to 
an individual member of the Board or to a panel of not less than three 
members of the Board. A member or panel assigned a proceeding shall 
make a determination thereon, including any motion filed in connection 
therewith. The member or panel, as the case may be, shall make a report 
under section 7104(d) of this title on any such determination, which 
report shall constitute the final disposition of the proceeding by the 
member or panel.
    ``(b) A proceeding may not be assigned to the Chairman as an 
individual member. The Chairman may participate in a proceeding 
assigned to a panel or in a reconsideration assigned to a panel of 
members.

``Sec. 7103. Reconsideration; correction of obvious errors

    ``(a) The decision of the Board determining a matter under section 
7102 of this title is final unless the Chairman orders reconsideration 
of the decision in accordance with subsection (b). Such an order may be 
made on the Chairman's initiative or upon motion of the claimant.
    ``(b)(1) Upon the order of the Chairman for reconsideration of the 
decision in a case, the case shall be referred--
        ``(A) in the case of a matter originally heard by a single 
    member of the Board, to a panel of not less than three members of 
    the Board; or
        ``(B) in the case of a matter originally heard by a panel of 
    members of the Board, to an enlarged panel of the Board.
    ``(2) A panel referred to in paragraph (1) may not include the 
member, or any member of the panel, that made the decision subject to 
reconsideration.
    ``(3) A panel reconsidering a case under this subsection shall 
render its decision after reviewing the entire record before the Board. 
The decision of the panel shall be made by a majority vote of the 
members of the panel. The decision of the panel shall constitute the 
final decision of the Board.
    ``(c) The Board on its own motion may correct an obvious error in 
the record, without regard to whether there has been a motion or order 
for reconsideration.''.
    (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of 
chapter 71 of such title is amended by striking out the item relating 
to section 7103 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:
``7103. Reconsideration; correction of obvious errors.''.

SEC. 7. PROCEDURES RELATING TO APPEALS.

    (a) In General.--(1) Section 7107 of title 38, United States Code, 
is amended to read as follows:

``Sec. 7107. Appeals: dockets; hearings

    ``(a)(1) Each case received pursuant to application for review on 
appeal shall be considered and decided in regular order according to 
its place upon the docket.
    ``(2) A case referred to in paragraph (1) may, for cause shown, be 
advanced on motion for earlier consideration and determination. Any 
such motion shall set forth succinctly the grounds upon which it is 
based and may not be granted unless the case involves interpretation of 
law of general application affecting other claims or for other 
sufficient cause shown.
    ``(b) The Board shall decide any appeal only after affording the 
appellant an opportunity for a hearing.
    ``(c) A hearing docket shall be maintained and formal recorded 
hearings shall be held by such member or members of the Board as the 
Chairman may designate. Such member or members designated by the 
Chairman to conduct the hearing shall, except in the case of a 
reconsideration of a decision under section 7103 of this title, 
participate in making the final determination of the claim.
    ``(d)(1) An appellant may request that a hearing before the Board 
be held at its principal location or at a facility of the Department 
located within the area served by a regional office of the Department.
    ``(2) A hearing to be held within an area served by a regional 
office of the Department shall (except as provided in paragraph (3)) be 
scheduled to be held in the order in which requests for hearings within 
that area are received by the Department.
    ``(3) In a case in which the Secretary is aware that the appellant 
is seriously ill or is under severe financial hardship, a hearing may 
be scheduled at a time earlier than would be provided for under 
paragraph (2).
    ``(e)(1) At the request of the Chairman, the Secretary may provide 
suitable facilities and equipment to the Board or other components of 
the Department to enable an appellant located at a facility within the 
area served by a regional office to participate, through voice 
transmission or through picture and voice transmission, by electronic 
or other means, in a hearing with a Board member or members sitting at 
the Board's principal location.
    ``(2) When such facilities and equipment are available, the 
Chairman may afford the appellant an opportunity to participate in a 
hearing before the Board through the use of such facilities and 
equipment in lieu of a hearing held by personally appearing before a 
Board member or panel as provided in subsection (d). Any such hearing 
shall be conducted in the same manner as, and shall be considered the 
equivalent of, a personal hearing. If the appellant declines to 
participate in a hearing through the use of such facilities and 
equipment, the opportunity of the appellant to a hearing as provided in 
such subsection (d) shall not be affected.''.
    (2) The item relating to section 7107 in the table of sections at 
the beginning of chapter 71 of such title is amended to read as 
follows:
``7107. Appeals: dockets; hearings.''.

    (b) Conforming Amendments.--(1) Section 7104(a) of such title is 
amended by striking out the third sentence.
    (2) Section 7110 of such title is repealed.
    (3) The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 71 of such 
title is amended by striking out the item relating to section 7110.

SEC. 8. CROSS-REFERENCE CORRECTION.

    Section 7104(a) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by 
striking out ``211(a)'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``511(a)''.

SEC. 9. REVISION TO INCOME VERIFICATION REQUIREMENTS.

    (a) Parents DIC.--Section 1315(e) of title 38, United States Code, 
is amended--
        (1) in the first sentence--
            (A) by striking out ``shall'' and inserting in lieu thereof 
        ``may''; and
            (B) by striking out ``each year'' and inserting in lieu 
        thereof ``for a calendar year''; and
        (2) in the second sentence--
            (A) by striking out ``file with the Secretary a revised 
        report'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``notify the 
        Secretary''; and
            (B) by striking out ``the estimated''.
    (b) Pension.--Section 1506 of such title is amended--
        (1) in paragraph (2)--
            (A) by striking out ``shall'' and inserting in lieu thereof 
        ``may''; and
            (B) by striking out ``each year'' and inserting in lieu 
        thereof ``for a calendar year''; and
        (2) in paragraph (3)--
            (A) by striking out ``file a revised report'' and inserting 
        in lieu thereof ``notify the Secretary'';
            (B) by striking out ``estimated'' each place it appears; 
        and
            (C) by striking out ``such applicant's or recipient's 
        estimate of''.







                               Speaker of the House of Representatives.







                            Vice President of the United States and    
                                               President of the Senate.

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