Text: H.R.3674 — 104th Congress (1995-1996)All Information (Except Text)

Text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip?

Shown Here:
Referred in Senate (07/17/1996)

 
[Congressional Bills 104th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 3674 Referred in Senate (RFS)]







104th CONGRESS
  2d Session
                                H.R. 3674

     To amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify the causal 
relationship required between a veteran's service-connected disability 
  and employment handicap for purposes of determining eligibility for 
training and rehabilitation assistance, to transfer certain educational 
     assistance entitlements from the Post-Vietnam Era Educational 
 Assistance Program to the Montgomery GI Bill, and for other purposes.


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                             July 17, 1996

Received: read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs

                                 AN ACT


 
     To amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify the causal 
relationship required between a veteran's service-connected disability 
  and employment handicap for purposes of determining eligibility for 
training and rehabilitation assistance, to transfer certain educational 
     assistance entitlements from the Post-Vietnam Era Educational 
 Assistance Program to the Montgomery GI Bill, and for other purposes.

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

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; REFERENCES TO TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE.

    (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Veterans' 
Education and Compensation Benefits Amendments of 1996''.
    (b) References.--Except as otherwise expressly provided, whenever 
in this Act an amendment is expressed in terms of an amendment to a 
section or other provision, the reference shall be considered to be 
made to a section or other provision of title 38, United States Code.

                 TITLE I--VETERANS' EDUCATION PROGRAMS

SEC. 101. EMPLOYMENT HANDICAP FOR WHICH AN INDIVIDUAL MAY RECEIVE 
              TRAINING AND REHABILITATION ASSISTANCE.

    (a) Definitions.--Section 3101 is amended--
            (1) in paragraph (1), by inserting ``, resulting in 
        substantial part from a disability described in section 
        3102(1)(A) of this title,'' after ``impairment'';
            (2) in paragraph (6), by inserting ``authorized under 
        section 3120 of this title'' after ``assistance''; and
            (3) in paragraph (7), by inserting ``, resulting in 
        substantial part from a service-connected disability rated at 
        10 percent or more,'' after ``impairment''.
    (b) Basic Entitlement.--Section 3102 is amended--
            (1) in paragraph (1)(A)(i), by striking out ``which is'' 
        and all that follows through ``chapter 11 of this title'' and 
        inserting in lieu thereof ``rated at 20 percent or more'';
            (2) in paragraph (2)(A), by striking out ``which is'' and 
        all that follows through ``chapter 11 of this title'' and 
        inserting in lieu thereof ``rated at 10 percent''; and
            (3) by amending paragraph (2)(B) to read as follows:
                    ``(B) is determined by the Secretary to be in need 
                of rehabilitation because of a serious employment 
                handicap.''.
    (c) Periods of Eligibility.--Section 3103 is amended--
            (1) in subsection (b)(3), by striking out ``described in 
        section 3102(1)(A)(i) of this title'' and inserting in lieu 
        thereof ``rated at 10 percent or more'';
            (2) in subsection (c)--
                    (A) in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by 
                striking out ``particular'' and inserting in lieu 
                thereof ``current''; and
                    (B) in paragraph (2), by striking out ``veteran's 
                employment'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``veteran's 
                current employment''; and
            (3) in subsection (d), by striking out ``under this 
        chapter'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``in accordance with 
        the provisions of section 3120 of this title''.
    (d) Scope of Services and Assistance.--Section 3104 is amended--
            (1) in subsection (a)--
                    (A) in paragraph (1)--
                            (i) by striking out ``such veteran's 
                        disability or disabilities cause'' and 
                        inserting in lieu thereof ``the veteran has an 
                        employment handicap or''; and
                            (ii) by inserting ``reasonably'' after 
                        ``goal is'';
                    (B) in paragraph (7)(A)--
                            (i) by striking out ``(i)''; and
                            (ii) by striking out ``, and (ii)'' and all 
                        that follows through ``such Act''; and
                    (C) in paragraph (12), by striking out ``For the 
                most severely disabled veterans requiring'' and 
                inserting in lieu thereof ``For veterans with the most 
                severe service-connected disabilities who require''; 
                and
            (2) by striking out subsection (b) and redesignating 
        subsection (c) as subsection (b).
    (e) Duration of Rehabilitation Programs.--Paragraph (1) of section 
3105(c) is amended by striking out ``veteran's employment'' and 
inserting in lieu thereof ``veteran's current employment''.
    (f) Initial and Extended Evaluations; Determinations Regarding 
Serious Employment Handicap.--(1) Section 3106 is amended--
            (A) in subsection (a), by striking out ``described in 
        clause (i) or (ii) of section 3102(1)(A) of this title'' and 
        inserting in lieu thereof ``rated at 10 percent or more'';
            (B) in subsection (b), by striking out ``counseling in 
        accordance with'';
            (C) in subsection (c), by striking out ``with extended'' 
        and inserting in lieu thereof ``with an extended''; and
            (D) by redesignating subsections (d) and (e) as subsections 
        (e) and (f), respectively, and inserting after subsection (c) 
        the following new subsection:
    ``(d) In any case in which the Secretary has determined that a 
veteran has a serious employment handicap and also determines, 
following such initial and any such extended evaluation, that 
achievement of a vocational goal currently is not reasonably feasible, 
the Secretary shall determine whether the veteran is capable of 
participating in a program of independent living services and 
assistance under section 3120 of this title.''.
    (2) Chapter 31 is amended--
            (A) in section 3107(c)(2), by striking out ``3106(e)'' and 
        inserting in lieu thereof ``3106(f)'';
            (B) in section 3109, by striking out ``3106(d)'' and 
        inserting in lieu thereof ``3106(e)'';
            (C) in section 3118(c), by striking out ``3106(e)'' and 
        inserting in lieu thereof ``3106(f)''; and
            (D) in section 3120(b), by striking out ``3106(d)'' and 
        inserting in lieu thereof ``3106(d) or (e)''.
    (g) Allowances.--Section 3108 is amended--
            (1) in subsection (a)(2), by striking out ``following the 
        conclusion of such pursuit'' and inserting in lieu thereof 
        ``while satisfactorily following a program of employment 
        services provided under section 3104(a)(5) of this title''; and
            (2) in subsection (f)(1)--
                    (A) in subparagraph (A)--
                            (i) by inserting ``eligible for and'' after 
                        ``veteran is'';
                            (ii) by striking out ``chapter 30 or 34'' 
                        and inserting in lieu thereof ``chapter 30''; 
                        and
                            (iii) by striking out ``either chapter 30 
                        or chapter 34'' and inserting in lieu thereof 
                        ``chapter 30''; and
                    (B) in subparagraph (B), by striking out ``chapter 
                30 or 34'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``chapter 
                30''.
    (h) Employment Assistance.--Paragraph (1) of section 3117(a) is 
amended by inserting ``rated at 10 percent or more'' after 
``disability''.
    (i) Program of Independent Living Services and Assistance.--Section 
3120 is amended--
            (1) in subsection (b), by striking out ``service-connected 
        disability described in section 3102(1)(A)'' and inserting in 
        lieu thereof ``serious employment handicap resulting in 
        substantial part from a service-connected disability described 
        in section 3102(1)(A)(i)''; and
            (2) in subsection (d), by striking out ``and (b)''.
    (j) Effective Date.--(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), the 
amendments made by this section shall take effect on the date of the 
enactment of this Act.
    (2) The amendments made by subsection (a) (other than paragraph 
(2)), subsection (d) (other than subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph 
(1)), and subsection (i) shall only apply with respect to claims of 
eligibility or entitlement to services and assistance (including claims 
for extension of such services and assistance) under chapter 31 of 
title 38, United States Code, received by the Secretary on or after the 
date of the enactment of this Act, including those claims based on 
original applications, and applications seeking to reopen, revise, 
reconsider, or otherwise adjudicate or readjudicate on any basis claims 
for services and assistance under such chapter.

SEC. 102. INCREASE IN BASIC MONTGOMERY GI BILL RATES.

    (a) In General.--Section 3015 is amended--
            (1) in subsection (a)(1), by striking out ``$400'' and 
        inserting in lieu thereof ``$421.62''; and
            (2) in subsection (b)(1), by striking out ``$325'' and 
        inserting in lieu thereof ``$343.51''.
    (b) Effective Date.--The amendments made by subsection (a) shall 
take effect on October 1, 1996.

SEC. 103. ENROLLMENT OF CERTAIN VEAP PARTICIPANTS IN MONTGOMERY GI 
              BILL.

    (a) In General.--Subchapter II of chapter 30 is amended by 
inserting after section 3018B the following new section:
``Sec. 3018C. Opportunity for certain VEAP participants to enroll
    ``(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an individual 
who--
            ``(1) is a participant on the date of the enactment of the 
        Veterans' Education and Compensation Benefits Amendments of 
        1996 in the educational benefits program provided by chapter 
        32;
            ``(2) is serving on active duty (excluding the periods 
        referred to in section 3202(1)(C)) on such date;
            ``(3) before applying for benefits under this section, has 
        completed the requirements of a secondary school diploma (or 
        equivalency certificate) or has successfully completed the 
        equivalent of 12 semester hours in a program of education 
        leading to a standard college degree;
            ``(4) if discharged or released from active duty during the 
        180-day period specified in paragraph (5), is discharged or 
        released therefrom with an honorable discharge; and
            ``(5) before 180 days after the date of the enactment of 
        the Veterans' Education and Compensation Benefits Amendments of 
        1996, makes an irrevocable election to receive benefits under 
        this section in lieu of benefits under chapter 32 of this 
        title, pursuant to procedures which the Secretary of each 
        military department shall provide in accordance with 
        regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense for the 
        purpose of carrying out this section or which the Secretary of 
        Transportation shall provide for such purpose with respect to 
        the Coast Guard when it is not operating as a service in the 
        Navy;
may elect to become entitled to basic educational assistance under this 
chapter.
    ``(b) With respect to an individual who makes an election under 
subsection (a) to become entitled to basic education assistance under 
this chapter--
            ``(1) the basic pay of the individual shall be reduced (in 
        a manner determined by the Secretary of Defense) until the 
        total amount by which such basic pay is reduced is $1,200; or
            ``(2) to the extent that basic pay is not so reduced before 
        the individual's discharge or release from active duty as 
        specified in subsection (a)(4) of this section, the Secretary 
        shall collect from the individual an amount equal to the 
        difference between $1,200 and the total amount of reductions 
        under paragraph (1), which shall be paid into the Treasury of 
        the United States as miscellaneous receipts.
    ``(c)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (3) of this subsection, an 
individual who is enrolled in the educational benefits program provided 
by chapter 32 of this title and who makes the election described in 
subsection (a)(5) of this section shall be disenrolled from such 
chapter 32 program as of the date of such election.
    ``(2) For each individual who is disenrolled from such program, the 
Secretary shall refund--
            ``(A) to the individual, as provided in section 3223(b) of 
        this title and subject to subsection (b)(2) of this section, 
        the unused contributions made by the individual to the Post-
        Vietnam Era Veterans Education Account established pursuant to 
        section 3222(a) of this title; and
            ``(B) to the Secretary of Defense the unused contributions 
        (other than contributions made under section 3222(c) of this 
        title) made by such Secretary to the Account on behalf of such 
        individual.
    ``(3) Any contribution made by the Secretary of Defense to the 
Post-Vietnam Era Veterans Education Account pursuant to subsection (c) 
of section 3222 of this title on behalf of any individual referred to 
in paragraph (1) of this subsection shall remain in such account to 
make payments of benefits to such individual under section 3015(f) of 
this title.
    ``(d) The procedures provided in regulations referred to in 
subsection (a) shall provide for notice of the requirements of 
subparagraphs (B), (C), and (D) of section 3011(a)(3) and of 
subparagraph (A) of section 3012(a)(3) of this title. Receipt of such 
notice shall be acknowledged in writing.''.
    (b) Conforming Amendments.--(1) The table of sections at the 
beginning of chapter 30 is amended by inserting after the item relating 
to section 3018B the following new item:

``3018C. Opportunity for certain VEAP participants to enroll.''.
    (2) Subsection (d) of section 3013 is amended by striking out ``or 
3018B'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``, 3018B, or 3018C''.
    (3) Subsection (f) of section 3015 is amended by inserting ``, 
3018B, or 3018C'' after ``section 3018A''.
    (4) Paragraph (3) of section 3035(b) is amended by striking out 
``or 3018B'' in the matter preceding subparagraph (A) and inserting in 
lieu thereof ``, 3018B, or 3018C''.
    (c) Transfer of Educational Assistance Funds.--(1) Subparagraph (B) 
of section 3232(b)(2) is amended--
            (A) by striking out ``, for the purposes of section 1322(a) 
        of title 31,''; and
            (B) by striking out ``as provided in such section'' and 
        inserting in lieu thereof ``to the Secretary for payments for 
        entitlement earned under subchapter II of chapter 30''.
    (2) Paragraph (1) of section 3035(b) of such title is amended by 
inserting before the period at the end the following: ``and from 
transfers from the Post-Vietnam Era Veterans Education Account pursuant 
to section 3232(b)(2)(B) of this title''.
    (3) Subsection (a) of section 1322 of title 31, United States Code, 
is amended by striking out ``(82)'' and inserting in lieu thereof 
``(81)''.

SEC. 104. MONTGOMERY GI BILL ELIGIBILITY FOR CERTAIN ACTIVE DUTY 
              MEMBERS OF ARMY AND AIR NATIONAL GUARD.

    (a) In General.--Paragraph (7) of section 3002 is amended by 
striking out ``November 29, 1989'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``June 
30, 1985''.
    (b) Application.--(1) An individual may only become eligible for 
benefits under chapter 30 of title 38, United States Code, as a result 
of the amendment made by subsection (a) by making an election to become 
entitled to basic educational assistance under such chapter. The 
election may only be made within the nine-month period beginning on the 
date of the enactment of this Act in the manner required by the 
Secretary of Defense.
    (2) In the case of any individual making an election under 
paragraph (1)--
            (A) the basic pay of an individual who, while a member of 
        the Armed Forces, makes an election under paragraph (1) shall 
        be reduced (in a manner determined by the Secretary of Defense) 
        until the total amount by which such basic pay is reduced is 
        $1,200; or
            (B) to the extent that basic pay is not so reduced before 
        the individual's discharge or release from active duty, the 
        Secretary of Defense shall collect from an individual who makes 
        such an election an amount equal to the difference between 
        $1,200 and the total amount of reductions under subparagraph 
        (A), which amount shall be paid into the Treasury of the United 
        States as miscellaneous receipts.
    (3) In the case of any individual making an election under 
paragraph (1), the 10-year period referred to in section 3031 of such 
title shall begin on the later of--
            (A) the date determined under such section 3031; or
            (B) the date the election under paragraph (1) of this 
        subsection becomes effective.

SEC. 105. PERMANENT AUTHORITY FOR ALTERNATIVE TEACHER CERTIFICATION 
              PROGRAMS.

    Subsection (c) of section 3452 is amended by striking out ``For the 
period ending on September 30, 1996, such'' and inserting in lieu 
thereof ``Such''.

                 TITLE II--VETERANS' BENEFITS PROGRAMS

SEC. 201. EFFECTIVE DATE OF DISCONTINUANCE OF CERTAIN VETERANS' 
              BENEFITS BY REASON OF DEATH OF RECIPIENT.

    (a) Date of Discontinuance of Benefits.--Section 5112(b)(1) of 
title 38, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
            ``(1) by reason of--
                    ``(A) the marriage or remarriage of the payee, 
                shall be the last day of the month before the month 
                during which such marriage or remarriage occurs; and
                    ``(B) the death of the payee, shall be (i) the last 
                day of the month before the month during which the 
                death occurs, or (ii) in the case of a payee who was in 
                receipt of compensation or pension and who has a 
                surviving spouse who is not entitled to have benefits 
                computed under section 5310 of this title for the month 
                in which the death occurs, the date on which the death 
                occurs;''.
    (b) Payment of Benefit for Final Month.--Section 5112 of such title 
is further amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
    ``(d) In the case of discontinuance of payment of compensation or 
pension covered by subsection (b)(1)(B)(ii), the payment for the final 
calendar month (or any portion thereof) for which such benefit is 
payable shall (notwithstanding any other provision of law) be payable 
to the surviving spouse.''.
    (c) Commencement Date for DIC.--Section 5110(d) of such title is 
amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
    ``(3) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), the effective date of an award 
of dependency and indemnity compensation for which application is 
received within one year from the date of death shall, in the case of a 
surviving spouse who is not entitled to have benefits computed under 
section 5310 of this title for the month in which the death occurs, be 
the day following the date on which the death occurred.''.
    (d) Effective Date.--The amendments made by this section shall 
apply with respect to the death of compensation and pension recipients 
occurring after October 1, 1997.

SEC. 202. INCREASE IN PERIOD FOR WHICH ACCRUED BENEFITS PAYABLE.

    Subsection (a) of section 5121 is amended by striking out ``one 
year'' in the matter preceding paragraph (1) and inserting in lieu 
thereof ``two years''.

SEC. 203. INCREASE IN AUTOMOBILE ALLOWANCE.

    (a) In General.--Subsection (a) of section 3902 is amended by 
striking out ``$5,500'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``$6,500''.
    (b) Effective Date.--The amendment made by subsection (a) shall 
apply with respect to purchases of automobiles and other conveyances on 
or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

SECTION 204. LEGAL ASSISTANCE FOR FINANCIALLY NEEDY VETERANS IN 
              CONNECTION WITH COURT OF VETERANS APPEALS PROCEEDINGS.

    (a) In General.--Subchapter III of chapter 72 is amended by adding 
at the end the following new section:
``Sec. 7287. Legal assistance for financially needy veterans in 
              proceedings before the Court
    ``(a)(1) The Court of Veterans Appeals shall provide funds in order 
to provide financial assistance by grant or contract to legal 
assistance entities for purposes of programs described in subsection 
(b). Such funds shall be provided from amounts transferred to the Court 
under subsection (c)(1) or specifically appropriated to the Court for 
the purposes of this section.
    ``(2) The Court shall seek to provide funds for such purpose 
through a nonprofit organization selected by it. If the Court 
determines that there exists no nonprofit organization that would be an 
appropriate recipient of funds under this section for the purposes 
referred to in paragraph (1) and that it is consistent with the mission 
of the Court, the Court shall provide financial assistance, by grant or 
contract, directly to legal assistance entities for purposes of 
permitting such entities to carry out programs described in subsection 
(b).
    ``(b)(1) A program referred to in subsection (a) is any program 
under which a legal assistance entity uses financial assistance under 
this section to provide assistance or carry out activities (including 
assistance, services, or activities referred to in paragraph (3)) in 
order to ensure that individuals described in paragraph (2) receive, 
without charge, legal assistance in connection with decisions to which 
section 7252(a) of this title may apply or with other proceedings 
before the Court.
    ``(2) An individual referred to in paragraph (1) is any veteran or 
other person who--
            ``(A) is or seeks to be a party to an action before the 
        Court; and
            ``(B) cannot, as determined by the Court or the entity 
        concerned, afford the costs of legal advice and representation 
        in connection with that action.
    ``(3) Assistance, services, and activities under a program 
described in this subsection may include the following for individuals 
described in paragraph (2) in connection with proceedings before the 
Court:
            ``(A) Financial assistance to defray the expenses of legal 
        advice or representation (other than payment of attorney fees) 
        by attorneys, clinical law programs of law schools, and 
        veterans service organizations.
            ``(B) Case screening and referral services for purposes of 
        referring cases to pro bono attorneys and such programs and 
        organizations.
            ``(C) Education and training of attorneys and other legal 
        personnel who may appear before the Court by attorneys and such 
        programs and organizations.
            ``(D) Encouragement and facilitation of the pro bono 
        representation by attorneys and such programs and 
        organizations.
    ``(4) A legal assistance entity that receives financial assistance 
described in subsection (a) to carry out a program under this 
subsection shall make such contributions (including in-kind 
contributions) to the program as the nonprofit organization or the 
Court, as the case may be, shall specify when providing the assistance.
    ``(5) A legal assistance entity that receives financial assistance 
under subsection (a) to carry out a program described in this 
subsection may not require or request the payment of a charge or fee in 
connection with the program by or on behalf of any individual described 
in paragraph (2).
    ``(c)(1)(A) From amounts appropriated to the Department for each of 
fiscal years 1997 through 2003 for the payment of compensation and 
pension, the Secretary shall transfer to the Court the amount specified 
under subparagraph (B) for each such fiscal year, and such funds shall 
be available for use by the Court only in accordance with this section.
    ``(B) The amount to be transferred to the Court under subparagraph 
(A) for any fiscal year is $700,000 for fiscal year 1997 and the same 
amount for each succeeding fiscal year through fiscal year 2003 
increased by 3 percent per year, reduced for any such fiscal year by 
such amount as may otherwise be specifically appropriated for the 
purposes of the program under this section for that fiscal year.
    ``(2) The Court shall provide funds available to it for the 
purposes of the program under this section to a nonprofit organization 
described in subsection (a)(1). Such funds shall be provided to such 
organization in advance or by way of reimbursement, to cover some or 
all of the administrative costs of the organization in providing 
financial assistance to legal assistance entities carrying out programs 
described in subsection (b).
    ``(3) Funds shall be provided under this subsection pursuant to a 
written agreement entered into by the Court and the organization 
receiving the funds.
    ``(d) A nonprofit organization may--
            ``(1) accept funds, in advance or by way of reimbursement, 
        from the Court under subsection (a)(1) in order to provide the 
        financial assistance referred to in that subsection;
            ``(2) provide financial assistance by grant or contract to 
        legal assistance entities under this section for purposes of 
        permitting such entities to carry out programs described in 
        subsection (b);
            ``(3) administer any such grant or contract; and
            ``(4) accept funds, in advance or by way of reimbursement, 
        from the Court under subsection (c) in order to cover the 
        administrative costs referred to in that subsection.
    ``(e)(1) Not later than February 1 of each year, the Court shall 
submit to Congress a report on the funds and financial assistance 
provided under this section during the preceding fiscal year. Based on 
the information provided the Court by entities receiving such funds and 
assistance, each report shall--
            ``(A) set forth the amount, if any, of funds provided to 
        nonprofit organizations under paragraph (1) of subsection (a) 
        during the fiscal year covered by the report;
            ``(B) set forth the amount, if any, of financial assistance 
        provided to legal assistance entities pursuant to paragraph (1) 
        of subsection (a) or under paragraph (2) of that subsection 
        during that fiscal year;
            ``(C) set forth the amount, if any, of funds provided to 
        nonprofit organizations under subsection (c) during that fiscal 
        year; and
            ``(D) describe the programs carried out under this section 
        during that fiscal year.
    ``(2) The Court may require that any nonprofit organization and any 
legal assistance entity to which funds or financial assistance are 
provided under this section provide the Court with such information on 
the programs carried out under this section as the Court determines 
necessary to prepare a report under this subsection.
    ``(f) For the purposes of this section:
            ``(1) The term `nonprofit organization' means any not-for-
        profit organization that is involved with the provision of 
        legal assistance to persons unable to afford such assistance.
            ``(2) The term `legal assistance entity' means a not-for-
        profit organization or veterans service organization capable of 
        providing legal assistance to persons with respect to matters 
        before the Court.
            ``(3) The term `veterans service organization' means an 
        organization referred to in section 5902(a)(1) of this title, 
        including an organization approved by the Secretary under that 
        section.''.
    (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of 
such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 
7286 the following new item:

``7287. Legal assistance for financially needy veterans in proceedings 
                            before the Court.''.

            Passed the House of Representatives July 16, 1996.

            Attest:

                                                ROBIN H. CARLE,

                                                                 Clerk.