Text: H.R.797 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)All Information (Except Text)

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Public Law No: 110-157 (12/26/2007)

 
[110th Congress Public Law 157]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]


[DOCID: f:publ157.110]

[[Page 121 STAT. 1831]]

Public Law 110-157
110th Congress

                                 An Act


 
 To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve low-vision benefits 
  matters, matters relating to burial and memorial affairs, and other 
    matters under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans 
 Affairs, and for other purposes. <<NOTE: Dec. 26, 2007 -  [H.R. 797]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress <<NOTE: Dr. James Allen Veteran 
Vision Equity Act of 2007. 38 USC 101 note.>> assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

    (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Dr. James Allen 
Veteran Vision Equity Act of 2007''.
    (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents for this Act is as 
follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

                  TITLE I--LOW-VISION BENEFITS MATTERS

Sec. 101. Modification of rate of visual impairment for payment of 
           disability compensation.
Sec. 102. Improvement in compensation for veterans in certain cases of 
           impairment of vision involving both eyes.

        TITLE II--MATTERS RELATING TO BURIAL AND MEMORIAL AFFAIRS

Sec. 201. Provision of medallion or other device for privately-purchased 
           grave markers.
Sec. 202. Improvement in provision of assistance to States relating to 
           the interment of veterans in cemeteries other than national 
           cemeteries.
Sec. 203. Modification of authorities on provision of Government 
           headstones and markers for burials of veterans at private 
           cemeteries.

                        TITLE III--OTHER MATTERS

Sec. 301. Use of national directory of new hires for income verification 
           purposes for certain veterans benefits.
Sec. 302. Extension of authority of Secretary of Veterans Affairs to 
           provide an educational assistance allowance to persons 
           performing qualifying work-study activities.

                  TITLE I--LOW-VISION BENEFITS MATTERS

SEC. 101. MODIFICATION OF RATE OF VISUAL IMPAIRMENT FOR PAYMENT OF 
                        DISABILITY COMPENSATION.

    Section 1114(o) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by 
striking ``5/200'' and inserting ``20/200''.
SEC. 102. IMPROVEMENT IN COMPENSATION FOR VETERANS IN CERTAIN 
                        CASES OF IMPAIRMENT OF VISION INVOLVING 
                        BOTH EYES.

    Section 1160(a)(1) of title 38, United States Code, is amended--

[[Page 121 STAT. 1832]]

            (1) by striking ``blindness'' both places it appears and 
        inserting ``impairment of vision'';
            (2) by striking ``misconduct;'' and inserting ``misconduct 
        and--''; and
            (3) by adding at the end the following new subparagraphs:
                    ``(A) the impairment of vision in each eye is rated 
                at a visual acuity of 20/200 or less; or
                    ``(B) the peripheral field of vision for each eye is 
                20 degrees or less;''.

        TITLE II--MATTERS RELATING TO BURIAL AND MEMORIAL AFFAIRS

SEC. 201. PROVISION OF MEDALLION OR OTHER DEVICE FOR PRIVATELY-
                        PURCHASED GRAVE MARKERS.

    Section 2306(d) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by 
adding at the end the following new paragraph:
    ``(5) In lieu of furnishing a headstone or marker under this 
subsection, the Secretary may furnish, upon request, a medallion or 
other device of a design determined by the Secretary to signify the 
deceased's status as a veteran, to be attached to a headstone or marker 
furnished at private expense.''.
SEC. 202. IMPROVEMENT IN PROVISION OF ASSISTANCE TO STATES 
                        RELATING TO THE INTERMENT OF VETERANS IN 
                        CEMETERIES OTHER THAN NATIONAL CEMETERIES.

    (a) Repeal of Time Limitation for State Filing for Reimbursement for 
Interment Costs.--
            (1) In general.--The second sentence of section 3.1604(d)(2) 
        of title 38, Code of Federal Regulations, shall have no further 
        force or effect as it pertains to unclaimed remains of a 
        deceased veteran.
            (2) <<NOTE: Effective date.>> Retroactive application.--
        Paragraph (1) shall take effect as of October 1, 2006 and apply 
        with respect to interments and inurnments occurring on or after 
        that date.

    (b) Grants for Operation and Maintenance of State Veterans' 
Cemeteries.--
            (1) In general.--Subsection (a) of section 2408 of title 38, 
        United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

    ``(a)(1) Subject to subsection (b), the Secretary may make a grant 
to any State for the following purposes:
            ``(A) Establishing, expanding, or improving a veterans' 
        cemetery owned by the State.
            ``(B) Operating and maintaining such a cemetery.

    ``(2) A grant under paragraph (1) may be made only upon submission 
of an application to the Secretary in such form and manner, and 
containing such information, as the Secretary may require.''.
            (2) Limitation on amounts awarded.--Subsection (e) of such 
        section is amended--
                    (A) by inserting ``(1)'' before ``Amounts''; and
                    (B) by adding at the end the following new 
                paragraph:

    ``(2) In any fiscal year, the aggregate amount of grants awarded 
under this section for the purposes specified in subsection (a)(1)(B) 
may not exceed $5,000,000.''.

[[Page 121 STAT. 1833]]

            (3) Conforming amendments.--Such section is further 
        amended--
                    (A) in subsection (b)--
                          (i) by striking ``Grants under this section'' 
                      and inserting ``A grant under this section for a 
                      purpose described in subsection (a)(1)(A)''; and
                          (ii) by striking ``a grant under this 
                      section'' each place it appears and inserting 
                      ``such a grant'';
                    (B) in subsection (d), by striking ``to assist such 
                State in establishing, expanding, or improving a 
                veterans' cemetery''; and
                    (C) in subsection (f)(1), by inserting ``, or in 
                operating and maintaining such cemeteries,'' after 
                ``veterans' cemeteries''.
            (4) <<NOTE: Deadline. 38 USC 2408 note.>>  Regulations.--Not 
        later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, 
        the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall prescribe regulations to 
        carry out the amendments made by this subsection.
SEC. 203. MODIFICATION OF AUTHORITIES ON PROVISION OF GOVERNMENT 
                        HEADSTONES AND MARKERS FOR BURIALS OF 
                        VETERANS AT PRIVATE CEMETERIES.

    (a) Repeal of Expiration of Authority.--Subsection (d) of section 
2306 of title 38, United States Code, as amended by section 201, is 
further amended--
            (1) by striking paragraph (3); and
            (2) by redesignating paragraphs (4) and (5), as added by 
        that section, as paragraphs (3) and (4), respectively.

    (b) <<NOTE: Applicability. 38 USC 2306 note.>>  Retroactive 
Effective Date.--Notwithstanding subsection (d) of section 502 of the 
Veterans Education and Benefits Expansion Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-
103; 115 Stat. 995; 38 U.S.C. 2306 note) or any other provision of law, 
the amendments made by that section and by subsections (a), (b), (c), 
(d), and (f) of section 402 of the Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and 
Information Technology Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-461; 120 Stat. 3429) 
shall take effect as of November 1, 1990, and shall apply with respect 
to headstones and markers for the graves of individuals dying on or 
after that date.

                        TITLE III--OTHER MATTERS

SEC. 301. USE OF NATIONAL DIRECTORY OF NEW HIRES FOR INCOME 
                        VERIFICATION PURPOSES FOR CERTAIN VETERANS 
                        BENEFITS.

    (a) Authority for Information Comparisons and Disclosures of 
Information to Assist in Administration of Certain Veterans Benefits.--
Section 453(j) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 653(j)) is amended 
by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
            ``(11) Information comparisons and disclosures to assist in 
        administration of certain veterans benefits.--
                    ``(A) Furnishing of information by secretary of 
                veterans affairs.--Subject to the provisions of this 
                paragraph, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall 
                furnish to the Secretary, on such periodic basis as 
                determined by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in 
                consultation with the

[[Page 121 STAT. 1834]]

                Secretary, information in the custody of the Secretary 
                of Veterans Affairs for comparison with information in 
                the National Directory of New Hires, in order to obtain 
                information in such Directory with respect to 
                individuals who are applying for or receiving--
                          ``(i) needs-based pension benefits provided 
                      under chapter 15 of title 38, United States Code, 
                      or under any other law administered by the 
                      Secretary of Veterans Affairs;
                          ``(ii) parents' dependency and indemnity 
                      compensation provided under section 1315 of title 
                      38, United States Code;
                          ``(iii) health care services furnished under 
                      subsections (a)(2)(G), (a)(3), or (b) of section 
                      1710 of title 38, United States Code; or
                          ``(iv) compensation paid under chapter 11 of 
                      title 38, United States Code, at the 100 percent 
                      rate based solely on unemployability and without 
                      regard to the fact that the disability or 
                      disabilities are not rated as 100 percent 
                      disabling under the rating schedule.
                    ``(B) Requirement to seek minimum information.--The 
                Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall seek information 
                pursuant to this paragraph only to the extent necessary 
                to verify the employment and income of individuals 
                described in subparagraph (A).
                    ``(C) Duties of the secretary.--
                          ``(i) Information disclosure.--The Secretary, 
                      in cooperation with the Secretary of Veterans 
                      Affairs, shall compare information in the National 
                      Directory of New Hires with information provided 
                      by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs with respect 
                      to individuals described in subparagraph (A), and 
                      shall disclose information in such Directory 
                      regarding such individuals to the Secretary of 
                      Veterans Affairs, in accordance with this 
                      paragraph, for the purposes specified in this 
                      paragraph.
                          ``(ii) Condition on disclosure.--The Secretary 
                      shall make disclosures in accordance with clause 
                      (i) only to the extent that the Secretary 
                      determines that such disclosures do not interfere 
                      with the effective operation of the program under 
                      this part.
                    ``(D) Use of information by secretary of veterans 
                affairs.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs may use 
                information resulting from a data match pursuant to this 
                paragraph only--
                          ``(i) for the purposes specified in 
                      subparagraph (B); and
                          ``(ii) after removal of personal identifiers, 
                      to conduct analyses of the employment and income 
                      reporting of individuals described in subparagraph 
                      (A).
                    ``(E) Reimbursement of hhs costs.--The Secretary of 
                Veterans Affairs shall reimburse the Secretary, in 
                accordance with subsection (k)(3), for the costs 
                incurred by the Secretary in furnishing the information 
                requested under this paragraph.
                    ``(F) Consent.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
                shall not seek, use, or disclose information under this 
                paragraph

[[Page 121 STAT. 1835]]

                relating to an individual without the prior written 
                consent of such individual (or of a person legally 
                authorized to consent on behalf of such individual).
                    ``(G) Expiration of authority.--The authority under 
                this paragraph shall expire on September 30, 2011.''.

    (b) Amendments to Veterans Affairs Authority.--
            (1) In general.--Chapter 53 of title 38, United States Code, 
        is amended by inserting after section 5317 the following new 
        section:
``Sec. 5317A. Use of income information from other agencies: 
                    independent verification required before 
                    termination or reduction of certain benefits 
                    and services

    ``(a) Independent Verification Required.--The Secretary may 
terminate, deny, suspend, or reduce any benefit or service specified in 
section 5317(c), with respect to an individual under age 65 who is an 
applicant for or recipient of such a benefit or service, by reason of 
information obtained from the Secretary of Health and Human Services 
under section 453(j)(11) of the Social Security Act, only if the 
Secretary takes appropriate steps to verify independently information 
relating to the individual's employment and income from employment.
    ``(b) Opportunity to Contest Findings.--The Secretary shall inform 
each individual for whom the Secretary terminates, denies, suspends, or 
reduces any benefit or service under subsection (a) of the findings made 
by the Secretary under such subsection on the basis of verified 
information and shall provide to the individual an opportunity to 
contest such findings in the same manner as applies to other information 
and findings relating to eligibility for the benefit or service 
involved.
    ``(c) Source of Funds for Reimbursement to Secretary of Health and 
Human Services.--The Secretary shall pay the expense of reimbursing the 
Secretary of Health and Human Services in accordance with section 
453(j)(11)(E) of the Social Security Act, for the cost incurred by the 
Secretary of Health and Human Services in furnishing information 
requested by the Secretary under section 453(j)(11) of such Act, from 
amounts available to the Department for the payment of compensation and 
pensions.
    ``(d) Expiration of Authority.--The authority under this section 
shall expire on September 30, 2011.''.

[[Page 121 STAT. 1836]]

            (2) Clerical amendment.--The table of sections at the 
        beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the item 
        relating to section 5317 the following new item:

``5317A. Use of income information from other agencies: independent 
           verification required before termination or reduction of 
           certain benefits and services.''.

SEC. 302. EXTENSION OF AUTHORITY OF SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS 
                        TO PROVIDE AN EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE 
                        ALLOWANCE TO PERSONS PERFORMING QUALIFYING 
                        WORK-STUDY ACTIVITIES.

    Section 3485(a)(4) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by 
striking ``June 30, 2007'' each place it appears and inserting ``June 
30, 2010''.

    Approved December 26, 2007.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--H.R. 797 (S. 1163):
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

HOUSE REPORTS: No. 110-57 (Comm. on Veterans' Affairs).
SENATE REPORTS: No. 110-143 accompanying S. 1163 (Comm. on Veterans' 
Affairs).
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 153 (2007):
            Mar. 21, considered and passed House.
            Nov. 2, considered and passed Senate, amended, in lieu of S. 
                1163.
            Dec. 11, House concurred in Senate amendment with amendments 
                pursuant to H. Res. 855.
            Dec. 17, Senate concurred in House amendments.

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