Summary: S.730 — 105th Congress (1997-1998)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to Senate with amendment(s) (09/21/1998)

Increases from $400 to $600 the special monthly pension payable to military Medal of Honor recipients, and automatically increases such pension by the same percentage that benefit amounts payable under Title II (Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance) of the Social Security Act are increased.

(Sec. 2) Requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to prescribe regulations under which any terminally ill person insured under either Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance or Veterans' Group Life Insurance may elect to receive in a lump-sum payment a portion of the face value of such insurance as an accelerated death benefit, reduced by an amount necessary to ensure that there is no increase in the actuarial value of the benefit paid. Prohibits any benefit so paid from exceeding 50 percent of the face value of the person's insurance in force on the date of such election. Requires any portion unpaid to be payable upon the actual death of the individual. Defines a person as "terminally ill" if such person has a medical prognosis of a life expectancy of less than a period prescribed by the Secretary, but in no case longer than 12 months. Makes irrevocable the election to receive such early benefit. Prohibits amounts so received from being considered as income for purposes of qualification under any Federal or federally-assisted program.

(Sec. 3) Directs the Secretary to furnish a memorial headstone or marker for a deceased spouse or surviving spouse of a veteran whose remains are not available for interment (currently, only furnished for the veteran). Includes as a surviving spouse an unremarried surviving spouse who has a subsequent remarriage which was terminated by death or divorce.

Authorizes the Secretary, when a memorial or marker has been furnished for a veteran, to add, when feasible, an inscription memorializing such veteran's surviving spouse in lieu of furnishing a headstone or marker for such spouse.

Authorizes the erection of appropriate group memorials to honor the memory of such persons and of veterans who are missing in action.

(Sec. 4) Authorizes a case before the Board of Veterans Appeals to be postponed if necessary to afford the appellant a hearing. Requires hearings held in areas served by a Department of Veterans Affairs regional office to be heard in accordance with the case's place on the Board's docket. Allows such hearings to be advanced on motion for an earlier hearing for good cause shown.

(Sec. 5) Provides that, when a claimant has received an adverse decision from the Board, review by the Court of Veterans Appeals will be permitted when a notice of appeal is filed with such Court within 120 days after the adverse Board decision is mailed to the claimant's authorized representative.

(Sec. 6) Directs the Secretary to report to the Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Senate an assessment of the adequacy of the Department's insurance and survivor benefits programs in meeting the needs of survivors of veterans with service-connected disabilities, including survivors of catastrophically disabled veterans.

(Sec. 7) Requires the Secretary to include in annual budget justification documents for fiscal years after 1999 a specific request for Department funds necessary to carry out its responsibilities under Federal programs to respond to potential terrorist attacks on the United States with weapons of mass destruction.