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110th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                     110-57

======================================================================

 
AMENDING TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE, TO IMPROVE COMPENSATION BENEFITS 
 FOR VETERANS IN CERTAIN CASES OF IMPAIRMENT OF VISION INVOLVING BOTH 
EYES, TO PROVIDE FOR THE USE OF THE NATIONAL DIRECTORY OF NEW HIRES FOR 
INCOME VERIFICATION PURPOSES, TO EXTEND THE AUTHORITY OF THE SECRETARY 
OF VETERANS AFFAIRS TO PROVIDE AN EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE ALLOWANCE FOR 
  QUALIFYING WORK STUDY ACTIVITIES, AND TO AUTHORIZE THE PROVISION OF 
 BRONZE REPRESENTATIONS OF THE LETTER ``V'' FOR THE GRAVES OF ELIGIBLE 
INDIVIDUALS BURIED IN PRIVATE CEMETERIES IN LIEU OF GOVERNMENT-PROVIDED 
                         HEADSTONES OR MARKERS

                                _______
                                

 March 20, 2007.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. Filner, from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                             MINORITY VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 797]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 797) to amend title 38, United States Code, to 
improve compensation benefits for veterans in certain cases of 
impairment of vision involving both eyes, and for other 
purposes, having considered the same, report favorably thereon 
with amendments and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.
  The amendments are as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. ENHANCED COMPENSATION BENEFITS FOR VETERANS IN CERTAIN CASES 
                    OF IMPAIRMENT OF VISION INVOLVING BOTH EYES.

  (a) Short Title.--This section may be cited as the ``Dr. James Allen 
Veteran Vision Equity Act''.
  (b) Enhanced Compensation.--Section 1160(a)(1) of title 38, United 
States Code, is amended--
          (1) by striking ``blindness'' both places it appears and 
        inserting ``impairment of vision''; and
          (2) by inserting before the semicolon at the end the 
        following: ``, where the impairment in each eye is to a visual 
        acuity of 20/200 or less or of a peripheral field of 20 degrees 
        or less''.

SEC. 2. USE OF NATIONAL DIRECTORY OF NEW HIRES FOR INCOME VERIFICATION 
                    PURPOSES FOR CERTAIN VETERANS BENEFITS.

  (a) Use of Information in National Directory of New Hires.--Chapter 
53 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the 
following new section:

``Sec. 5320. Use of National Directory of New Hires for income 
                    verification purposes

  ``(a) Information From National Directory of New Hires.--(1) The 
Secretary shall furnish to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, 
on a quarterly basis or at such intervals as may be determined by the 
Secretary, information in the custody of the Secretary for comparison 
with information in the National Directory of New Hires maintained by 
the Secretary of Health and Human Services pursuant to section 453 of 
the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 653), in order to obtain the 
information in such directory with respect to individuals under the age 
of 65 who are applicants for or recipients of benefits or services 
specified in subsection (d).
  ``(2) The Secretary shall seek information pursuant to this 
subsection only to the extent essential to determining eligibility for 
benefits and services specified in subsection (d) and the amount of 
benefits specified in paragraphs (1) and (2) of that subsection for 
individuals under the age of 65.
  ``(3)(A) The Secretary of Health and Human Services, in cooperation 
with the Secretary, shall compare information in the National Directory 
of New Hires with information in the custody of the Secretary furnished 
pursuant to paragraph (1), and disclose information in that Directory 
to the Secretary, in accordance with this subsection, for the purposes 
specified in this subsection.
  ``(B) The Secretary of Health and Human Services may make a 
disclosure in accordance with subparagraph (A) only to the extent that 
the Secretary determines that such disclosure does not interfere with 
the effective operation of the program under part D of title IV of the 
Social Security Act.
  ``(4) The Secretary may use information resulting from a data match 
pursuant to this subsection only for the purpose of determining 
eligibility for benefits and services specified in subsection (d) and 
the amount of benefits specified in paragraphs (1) and (2) of that 
subsection.
  ``(5) The Secretary shall reimburse the Secretary of Health and Human 
Services for the additional costs incurred by that Secretary in 
furnishing information under this subsection. Such reimbursement shall 
be at rates that the Secretary of Health and Human Services determines 
to be reasonable (which rates shall include payment for the costs of 
obtaining, verifying, maintaining, and comparing the information).
  ``(b) Notification to Beneficiaries.--The Secretary shall notify each 
applicant for, or recipient of, a benefit or service specified in 
subsection (d) that income information furnished by the applicant to 
the Secretary may be compared with information obtained by the 
Secretary from the Secretary of Health and Human Services under 
subsection (a). The Secretary shall periodically transmit to recipients 
of such benefits additional notifications of such matters.
  ``(c) Independent Verification Required.--The Secretary may not, by 
reason of information obtained from the Secretary of Health and Human 
Services under subsection (a) , terminate, deny, suspend, or reduce any 
benefit or service described in subsection (d) until the Secretary 
takes appropriate steps to verify independently information relating to 
employment and employment income.
  ``(d) Covered Benefits and Services.--The benefits and services 
specified in this subsection are the following:
          ``(1) Needs-based pension benefits provided under chapter 15 
        of this title or under any other law administered by the 
        Secretary.
          ``(2) Parents' dependency and indemnity compensation provided 
        under section 1315 of this title.
          ``(3) Health-care services furnished under subsections 
        (a)(2)(G), (a)(3), and (b) of section 1710 of this title.
          ``(4) Compensation paid under chapter 11 of this title 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.
  ``(e) Limitation With Respect to Individual Unemployability Cases.--
In the case of compensation described in subsection (d)(4), the 
Secretary may independently verify or otherwise act upon wage or self-
employment information referred to in subsection (c) of this section 
only if the Secretary finds that the amount and duration of the 
earnings reported in that information clearly indicate that the 
individual is not qualified for a rating of total disability.
  ``(f) Opportunity to Contest Findings.--The Secretary shall inform 
the individual of the findings made by the Secretary on the basis of 
verified information under subsection (c), and shall give 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.
  ``(g) Source of Funds for Administration of Section.--The Secretary 
shall pay the expenses of carrying out this section from amounts 
available to the Department for the payment of compensation and 
pension.
  ``(h) Termination of Authority.--The authority of the Secretary to 
obtain information from the Secretary of Health and Human Services 
under subsection (a) expires on September 30, 2012.''.
  (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of 
such chapter is amended by adding at the end the following new item:

``5320. Use of National Directory of New Hires for income verification 
purposes.''.

  (c) Effective Date.--Section 5320 of title 38, United States Code, as 
added by subsection (a), shall take effect 270 days after the date of 
the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 3. 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, 2009''.

SEC. 4. PROVISION OF BRONZE REPRESENTATION OF THE LETTER ``V'' FOR 
                    GRAVE OF ELIGIBLE INDIVIDUAL BURIED IN PRIVATE 
                    CEMETERY IN LIEU OF GOVERNMENT-PROVIDED HEADSTONE 
                    OR MARKER.

  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, if requested, a bronze 
representation of the letter `V' to be attached to a headstone or 
marker furnished at private expense. The Secretary shall make such 
representation available in two sizes for such purpose.''.

  Amend the title so as to read:

    A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve 
compensation benefits for veterans in certain cases of 
impairment of vision involving both eyes, to provide for the 
use of the National Directory of New Hires for income 
verification purposes, to extend the authority of the Secretary 
of Veterans Affairs to provide an educational assistance 
allowance for qualifying work study activities, and to 
authorize the provision of bronze representations of the letter 
``V'' for the graves of eligible individuals buried in private 
cemeteries in lieu of Government-provided headstones or 
markers.

                              Introduction

    On February 5, 2007, the Honorable Tammy Baldwin introduced 
H.R. 797, which was referred to the Committee on Veterans' 
Affairs. The Chairman of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, 
the Honorable Bob Filner, the Honorable Stephanie Herseth, the 
Honorable Shelley Berkley, the Honorable Jeff Miller, the 
Honorable John Hall and the Honorable John Boozman are original 
co-sponsors of H.R. 797.
    On March 13, 2007, the Subcommittee on Disability 
Assistance and Memorial Affairs met in open session to consider 
legislation pending before the Subcommittee. Among the measures 
considered was H.R. 797. The Subcommittee subsequently 
favorably recommended H.R. 797 to the full Committee on 
Veterans' Affairs.
    On March 15, 2007, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs met 
and voted by voice to favorably report H.R. 797 with 
amendments.

                                Summary

    H.R. 797 would allow veterans who receive veterans 
disability compensation for impairment of vision in one eye to 
be eligible to receive additional disability compensation for 
impairment of vision in the eye that is not service-connected, 
where the impairment in each eye is to a visual acuity of 20/
200 or less or of a peripheral field of 20 degrees or less (the 
definition of ``legal blindness'' adopted by all 50 states and 
the Social Security Administration.)
    H.R. 797 also would direct the Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs and the Secretary of Health and Human Services to match 
and compare VA needs-based pension benefits data, parents' 
dependency and indemnity compensation data, health-care 
services data, and unemployability compensation data with the 
National Directory of New Hires maintained by DHHS, for the 
purpose of determining eligibility for such benefits and 
services.
    Finally, H.R. 797 would extend authorization of the 
veterans work study program until 2009 and allows for a bronze 
``V'' marker in lieu of a government provided head stone or 
marker for burials in a private cemetery.

                       Background and Discussion


           A. ENHANCED COMPENSATION FOR IMPAIRMENT OF VISION

    This legislation is named after Dr. James Allen who is a 
Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Wisconsin 
School of Medicine. Dr. Allen worked at the Veterans Affairs 
Hospital in Wisconsin for thirty-three years and treated 
numerous eye patients, including blind veterans.
    Current law provides that a veteran who is service-
connected for blindness in one eye could qualify for additional 
disability compensation if he or she became blind in the 
remaining eye for non service-connected reasons. However, the 
applicable law, the Paired Organ Law of title 38 of the United 
States Code enacted in 1962, does not define the term 
``blindness'' nor is any provision made for impairment of 
vision (in the non-service-connected eye) short of blindness.
    The VA, rather than follow the accepted definition of 
blindness as visual acuity of 20/200 or less or a peripheral 
view of 20 degrees or less, applies a much stricter standard of 
5/200 (20/800) or less, which is the equivalent to having an 
eye with light perception only. The 20/200 standard is applied 
by the Social Security Administration, all 50 states and the 
World Health Organization.
    H.R. 797 would affect an estimated 5 percent of the 13,109 
veterans who have service connected blindness or loss of vision 
in one eye. As of April 2006, Walter Reed Army Medical Center 
alone has treated approximately 140 Operation Enduring Freedom/
Operation Iraqi Freedom service members for visual injuries.
    In 2002, Congress passed and the President signed P.L. 107-
330, which included a provision (Section 103) to correct a 
similar deficiency in the Paired Organ law for hearing loss. In 
2006, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs held a legislative 
hearing and received favorable testimony on H.R. 2963, a bill 
similar to H.R. 797. In the aforementioned hearing, the VA 
supported H.R. 2963.
    The issue of employability also enters into great concern 
over the denial of claims for veterans who are legally blind. 
Over the years, the ability of the disabled to enter the 
workforce has decreased substantially. National surveys show 
little evidence that substantial progress was made in 
employment rates of the functionally disabled in the decade 
following passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In 
fact, several research articles and other sources indicate that 
the trend has worsened. The following points, extracted from 
federal government sources and university research relating to 
the problems of America's disabled population, focus 
specifically on the issue of employment.
    The Census Bureau 2000 Survey found that only 60.1 percent 
of disabled men with one disability between ages 21-64 were 
employed. When reviewing the data on those with a severe 
disability (defined as affecting daily functioning skills), 
however, the rate of employment was only 32 percent.
    The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) found 
that the 30 percent of working age (18 to 64) adults with 
disabilities in 1994 lived at or below the federal poverty 
level.
    The Census Bureau 2000 Survey found that 18.8 percent of 
the disabled population ages 16-64 were at the poverty level 
compared to 9.5 percent of the general population.
    Thirteen percent of SSDI veterans age 65 and older with a 
disability live at or below the poverty level.
    Some 10.6 million persons, or 22 percent of the 48 million 
Americans who will receive Social Security benefits this year, 
depend on that one check for their entire monthly income, which 
averages $909 per month. This means that the average yearly 
income for SSDI beneficiaries is $11,460, well below the 
government poverty level.
    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Annual 
Federal Workforce Report 2004 found that the average General 
Schedule grade level for people with disabilities was 8.4, 
nearly two grades below the government-wide average of 9.9 for 
permanent or temporary employees.
    The Cornell University Disability Statistics Research 
Center tracked U.S. civilian, non-institutionalized men and 
women age 18-64. The Center estimated that those employed in 
the workforce in 2004 was 19.3 percent compared to 24.5 percent 
in 2000. In 1997 the rate was 25.5 percent, reflecting a clear 
decrease in the workforce for those disabled.
    The University of California analysis and research of The 
Employment Experience of Persons with Limitations in Physical 
Functioning, published in 1999, had several findings. Even 
after adjusting for age and gender differences, persons 
reporting functional limitations are less than half as likely 
to be in the labor force as those with no functional 
limitations, with adjusted labor force participation rates of 
32.4 and 71.2 percent, respectively. Part-time employment is 
also more common among persons with several functional 
limitations. Among individuals with functional limitations who 
have experienced a job loss, nearly three-quarters reported 
that this loss created a major problem in their lives. Less 
than half of those with no limitations reported that the loss 
created a major problem.
    Literature reviews on employment among persons with 
disabilities reveal that the disabled have a lower 
participation rate in the labor force. They also have higher 
unemployment rates and higher rates of part-time employment 
than do individuals without disabilities (Yelin, 1997; 
Bennefield & McNeil, 1989). These findings are consistent 
across numerous national surveys, including the Current 
Population Survey (CPS), the Survey of Income and Program 
Participation (SIPP), and the National Health Interview Survey 
(NHIS) (Trupin & Armstrong, 1998; Trupin, Sebesta, Yelin, & 
LaPlante, 1997). For purposes of the surveys, disabilities are 
measured by work capacity, activity limitation, or functional 
limitation (McNeil, 1993).
    The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), conducted by 
the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and reported 
in a March 2003 article, revealed that working age individuals 
with visual impairments had employment rates and mean household 
incomes than those with non-visual impairments. The employment 
rate of 54 percent among the severely visually impaired age 18-
54, reported in 1994-95, was also revealed in the article.
    A study by Hendricks, Schiro-Geist, and Broadbent (1997) 
examined the link between disability and employment outcomes 
for those who had the opportunity to pursue both a university 
education and rehabilitation services at the University of 
Illinois from 1948 to 1993. When regression analysis was 
applied, the salary gap between disabled and non-disabled 
workers with a college degree was 8.3 percent. While these and 
other studies have found that the disabled in the workforce 
with higher education and rehabilitation earn more than the 
disabled without this level of education, the income levels and 
earning capacity are still lower in all comparisons to the non-
disabled throughout the American working age population.

       B. NATIONAL DIRECTORY OF NEW HIRES FOR INCOME VERIFICATION

    The Department of Veterans Affairs manages a range of 
benefit programs that, among other things, compensate veterans 
and their dependents. Some, but not all, benefit programs are 
based on income or ability to work. For example, veterans (and 
their dependents) with low incomes who are permanently and 
totally disabled or are 65 and older may be eligible for 
monetary support if they have 90 days or more of active 
military service, at least one day of which was during a period 
of war. In addition, low income veterans (and their dependents) 
many be eligible for health care services and Parents' 
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.
    Also, under VA's regulations governing Individual 
Unemployability (IU), VA can grant total disability 
compensation benefits at the 100-percent level to veterans of 
any age whose service-connected disabilities are rated at 60 
percent or higher and have caused them to be unemployable. VA 
places an earnings limit on the continued receipt of IU 
benefits.
    VA has experienced a marked increase in IU beneficiaries 
and expenditures. From September 1996 to September 2005, the 
number of veterans receiving IU benefits has increased from 
about 71,000 to about 220,000.
    According to a May 2006 GAO study, the VA has an 
inefficient and ineffective process to enforce earnings limit 
for ongoing eligibility for IU benefits. Furthermore, the study 
found that the VA's practices for its IU benefits lag behind 
practices used by other disability programs. The study also 
found that the VA lacks several features used by the private-
sector disability programs and the Social Security 
Administration. One such feature is the National Directory of 
New Hires (NDNH), which provides a national directory of 
employment and unemployment insurance information to facilitate 
employment and income verification. CBO has estimated that VA 
will save millions of dollars by using the NDNH directory to 
verify information from those applying to certain veterans 
benefits programs.
    The purpose of NDNH is to provide a national directory of 
employment and unemployment insurance information that will 
enable state Child Support Enforcement (IV-D) agencies to be 
more effective in locating noncustodial parents, establishing 
child support orders and enforcing child support orders. 
However, many agencies, like Social Security, use NDNH to 
confirm employment and income verification.
    Section 2 of the bill allows the Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs to access information in the NDNH for the sole purpose 
of performing income and employment verification to determine 
eligibility for benefits administered by the VA.

          C. BRONZE ``V'' FOR GRAVE STONE IN PRIVATE CEMETERY

    The VA furnishes upon request, at no charge to the 
applicant, a government head stone or marker for the grave of 
any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world. 
For all deaths occurring before September 11, 2001, the VA may 
provide a head stone or marker only for graves that are not 
marked with a private headstone.
    No graphics (logos, symbols, etc.) are permitted on 
Government-furnished head stones and markers other than the 
approved emblems of belief, the Civil War Union Shield, the 
Civil War Confederate Southern Cross of Honor, and the Medal of 
Honor insignias.
    Some veterans, due to the strong affinity they have for 
their time in the military, wish to memorialize their service 
on a grave stone or marker. More specifically, these veterans 
have advocated placing a bronze ``V,'' which stands for 
``veteran'' on their grave stone. This request has been 
especially strong with veterans who have plots in private 
cemeteries.
    Section 4 of the bill would allow a veteran to receive a 
bronze ``V'' in lieu of a government provided head stone or 
marker in a private cemetery.

                       D. VA WORK STUDY ALLOWANCE

    The VA work study allowance is available to veterans 
training under many programs, such as the Montgomery G.I. Bill 
(both Active Duty and Selected Reserve), as well as the program 
for Vocational Training and Rehabilitation for Veterans with 
Service Connected Disabilities, and several other programs.
    To be eligible for the program, the veteran must be 
training full-time or \3/4\ time in a college degree, 
vocational, or professional program. The type of work available 
includes:
    VA paperwork at schools; outreach services under VA 
supervision or supervision furnished by a State approving 
agency employee; work at VA medical facilities or National 
Cemetery System office; work at Department of Defense 
facilities related to education benefits under the GI Bill 
Selected Reserve; work assisting the care of veterans in a 
State home receiving VA per diem assistance; work at VA medical 
facilities; work assisting the administration of a National 
Cemetery system or a State veterans' cemetery; or the VA's work 
study program where veterans assist VA and other government 
agencies.
    The veteran can earn the federal minimum wage or the state 
minimum wage, whichever is greater. The total number of hours 
cannot be more than 25 times the number of weeks in the 
veterans' enrollment period.
    The work study program is an increasingly popular benefit 
with veterans. The VA work study allowance, which is set to 
expire on June 30, 2007, was last reauthorized in the 109th 
Congress.
    Section 3 of the bill reauthorizes the VA work study 
allowance until June 30, 2009.

                      SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS

    Section 1(a) of the bill would provide that this Act may be 
cited as the ``Dr. James Allen Veteran Vision Equity Act.''
    Section 1(b)(1) of the bill would replace the word 
``blindness'' both places it appears with ``impairment of 
vision.''
    Section 1(b)(2) of the bill would define the level of 
``impairment of vision'' at each eye as a visual acuity of 20/
200 or of a peripheral field of 20 degrees or less.''
    Section (a)(1) of 5320 of the bill requires the Secretary 
of Veterans Affairs to provide the Secretary of Health and 
Human Services information in the custody of the VA for 
comparison with the information in the National Directory of 
New Hires to obtain information in such directory with respect 
to individuals under the age of 65 who are applicants for or 
recipients of benefits or services administered by the VA.
    Section (a)(2) of 5320 of the bill requires the Secretary 
of the Veterans Affairs to seek information from the National 
Directory of New Hires to determine eligibility for benefits 
administered by the VA.
    Section (3)(A) of 5320 of the bill requires the Secretary 
of Health and Human Services to compare the information 
provided by the Secretary of the Veterans Affairs with 
information found in the National Directory of New Hires. The 
Secretary of Health and Human Services may also disclose the 
information discovered to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
    Section (B) of 5320 of the bill would allow the Secretary 
of Health and Human Services to make the disclosure to the 
Secretary of Veterans Affairs so long as such disclosure does 
not interfere with effective operation of the program under 
part D of title IV of the Social Security Act.
    Section (4) of 5320 of the bill requires the Secretary of 
the Veterans Affairs to use the information from the data match 
only for purposes of determining eligibility for services or 
benefits administered by the VA.
    Section (5) of 5320 of the bill requires the Secretary of 
the Veterans Affairs to reimburse the Secretary of Health and 
Human Services for additional costs incurred for furnishing 
information. The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall 
determine reasonable rates.
    Section (b) of 5320 of the bill would require the Secretary 
of Veterans Affairs to notify each applicant for, or recipient 
of, a benefit specified in subsection (d) that income 
information provided may be compared with information provided 
by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
    Section (c) of 5320 of the bill would prevent the Secretary 
of Veterans Affairs from using information obtained from the 
Secretary of Health and Human Services to terminate, deny, 
suspend, or reduce any benefit or service until the Secretary 
of Veterans Affairs takes appropriate steps to verify 
independently information relating to employment and employment 
income.
    Section (d) of 5320 of the bill lists the benefits and 
subsections subject to the National Directory of New Hires 
information.
    Section (d)(1) of 5320 of the bill would apply the National 
Directory New Hire check to Needs-based pension benefits 
provided under chapter 15 of title 38 of the United States 
Code.
    Section (d)(2) of 5320 of the bill would apply the National 
Directory New Hire check to the Parents' Dependency and 
Indemnity Compensation provided under Section 1315 of title 38 
of the United States Code.
    Section (d)(3) of 5320 of the bill would apply the National 
Directory New Hire check to Health Care services furnished 
under subsections (a)(2)(G), (a)(3), and (b) of Section 1710 of 
title 38 of the United States Code.
    Section (d)(4) of 5320 of the bill would apply the National 
Directory New Hire check to Compensation paid under Chapter 11 
of Title 38 of the 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.
    Section (e) of 5320 of the bill would allow the Secretary 
of Veterans Affairs, in case of compensation described in 
subsection (d)(4), to independently verify or otherwise act 
upon wage or self employment information referred to in 
subsection (c) if the Secretary clearly finds that the 
individual is not qualified for a rating of total disability.
    Section (f) of 5320 of the bill would require the Secretary 
of Veterans Affairs to inform the individual of the findings 
made by the Secretary and give the individual the 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.
    Section (g) of 5320 of the bill would require the Secretary 
of Veterans Affairs to pay the expenses for carrying out this 
section from amounts available to the VA for the payment of 
compensation and pension.
    Section (h) of 5320 of the bill would terminate the ability 
of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to receive information 
from the Secretary of Health and Human Services on September 
30, 2012.
    Section 2(b) of the bill would amend the table of sections 
at the beginning of such chapter by adding the following: 
``5320. Use of National Directory of New Hires for income 
verification purposes.''
    Section 2(c) of the bill provides that this legislation 
becomes effective 270 days after enactment of the Act.
    Section 3 of the bill would extend until June 30, 2009 the 
educational assistance allowance to individuals performing 
qualifying work study activities under Section 3485(a)(4) of 
title 38, United States Code.
    Section 4 of the bill would allow the Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs under Section 2306(d) of title 38, United States Code 
to furnish a bronze `V' to be attached to a headstone or marker 
in lieu of a government provided grave stone or marker for 
burials in private cemeteries. The Secretary shall make 
available two sizes of bronze V's for such purpose.

            Application of Law and to the Legislative Branch

    Section 102(b)(3) of Public Law 104-1 requires a 
description of the application of this bill to the legislative 
branch where the bill relates to the terms and conditions of 
employment or access to public services and accommodations. 
This bill provides for enhanced compensation for veterans in 
certain instances of impairment of vision involving both eyes. 
The bill also reauthorizes a VA work study program and allows 
for a bronze ``V'' on specific grave stones or markers. As 
such, this bill does not relate to employment or access to 
public services and accommodations.

  Statement of Oversight Findings and Recommendations of the Committee

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause 
(2)(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee's oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the descriptive portions of 
this report.

         Statements of General Performance Goals and Objectives

    In accordance with clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee's performance 
goals and objectives are reflected in the descriptive portions 
of this report.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Under clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House 
of Representatives, the Committee must include a statement 
citing the specific powers granted to Congress to enact the law 
proposed by H.R. 797. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution 
of the United States grants the Congress the power to enact 
this law.

                     Federal Advisory Committee Act

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not establish 
or authorize the establishment of an advisory committee within 
the definition of 5 U.S.C. App., Section 5(b).

                       Unfunded Mandate Statement

    Section 423 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment 
Control Act (as amended by Section 101(a)(2) of the Unfunded 
Mandate Reform Act, P.L. 104-4) requires a statement whether 
the provisions of the reported bill include unfunded mandates. 
In compliance with this requirement the Committee has received 
a letter from the Congressional Budget Office that is included 
herein.

                         Earmark Identification

    H.R. 797 does not contain any congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9(d), 9(e), or 9(f) of rule XXI.

                           Committee Estimate

    Clause 3(d)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires an estimate and a comparison by the 
Committee of the costs that would be incurred in carrying out 
H.R. 797. However, clause 3(d)(3)(B) of that rule provides that 
this requirement does not apply when the Committee has included 
in its report a timely submitted cost estimate of the bill 
prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office 
under Section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act.

     Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(2) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and Section 
308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and with respect 
to requirements of clause (3)(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives and Section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has received 
the following cost estimate for H.R. 797 from the Director of 
Congressional Budget Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                    Washington, DC, March 20, 2007.
Hon. Bob Filner,
Chairman, Committee on Veterans' Affairs,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 797, a bill to 
amend title 38, United States Code, to improve compensation 
benefits for veterans in certain cases of impairment of vision 
involving both eyes, to provide for the use of National 
Directory of New Hires for income verification purposes, to 
extend the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to 
provide educational assistance allowance for qualifying work-
study activities, and to authorize the provision of bronze 
representations of the letter `V' for the graves of eligible 
individuals buried in private cemeteries in lieu of Government-
provided headstones or markers.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Dwayne M. 
Wright.
            Sincerely,
                                           Peter R. Orszag,
                                                          Director.
    Enclosure.

H.R.797--A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve 
        compensation benefits for veterans in certain cases of 
        impairment of vision involving both eyes, to provide for the 
        use of the National Directory of New Hires for income 
        verification purposes, to extend the authority of the Secretary 
        of Veterans Affairs to provide an educational assistance 
        allowance for qualifying work-study activities, and to 
        authorize the provision of bronze representations of the letter 
        `V' for the graves of eligible individuals buried in private 
        cemeteries in lieu of Government-provided headstones or markers

    Summary: H.R. 797 would allow veterans to become eligible 
for additional benefits if the veteran has a qualifying 
impairment of vision. It also would allow the Department of 
Veterans Affairs (VA) to access the Department of Health and 
Human Services (HHS) National Directory of New Hires (NDNH) 
database for income verification purposes, extend the authority 
for certain qualifying work-study activities, and allow VA to 
provide an additional option in the type of marker available to 
honor the graves of individuals buried in private cemeteries. 
CBO estimates that enacting this legislation would decrease net 
direct spending for veterans' benefits by less than $500,000 in 
2008, by $13 million over the 2008-2012 period, and by a net 
amount of $15 million over the 2008-2017 period.
    H.R. 797 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) 
and would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary impact of H.R. 797 is shown in the following table. 
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 700 
(veterans benefits and services).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      Outlays in millions of dollars, by fiscal year--
                                           ---------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             2008   2009   2010   2011   2012   2013   2014   2015   2016   2017
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           CHANGES IN DIRECT SPENDING

Use of National Directory of New Hires for     -1     -2     -4     -6     -7     -5     -4     -3     -2     -2
 Income Verification Purposes.............
Additional Eligibility for Impairment of        *      1      1      2      2      2      3      3      3      3
 Vision Involving Both Eyes...............
Extension of Authority for Work-Study           1      *      0      0      0      0      0      0      0      0
 Activities...............................
    Total Changes.........................      *     -1     -3     -4     -5     -2     -1      *      *      1
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Notes: Components may not sum to totals because of rounding. * = between -$500,000 and $500,000.

    Basis of estimate: For this estimate, CBO assumes the bill 
will be enacted near the beginning of fiscal year 2008.

Use of National Directory of New Hires for income verification

    Section 2 would temporarily authorize VA to use the 
Department of Health and Human Services' NDNH database to 
verify veterans' income levels and thus their eligibility for 
certain veterans' benefits such as disability pensions and 
disability compensation for veterans whose disability rating is 
based on a finding of individual unemployability. That 
authority would expire on September 30, 2012. Currently, VA 
employs an income verification match with the Internal Revenue 
Service (IRS) for that same purpose, but that authority expires 
on September 30, 2008. In addition, VA has recently re-
instituted an annual certification form that requires all 
individuals to certify their employment and income with VA.
    According to VA, the current IRS income verification match 
yields, on average, about $5 million in new savings per year. 
CBO assumes the savings for each individual continues until 
that individual's death. Thus, if an income matching program 
yielded $5 million in savings in the first year, the following 
year would see that savings of $5 million continue and even 
increase slightly due to cost-of-living increases (but reduced 
by some number of deaths) plus an addition $5 million in new 
savings, for a total savings in the second year of about $10 
million.
    The NDNH database would allow VA to analyze more recent 
wage and income data than the IRS data, which is up to a year 
and a half old when the data comparison is run. However, 
according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, 
unlike the IRS income match, the NDNH data does not include 
complete information on independent contractors, self-employed 
individuals, subcontractors, or individuals who provide 
services such as childcare for private homes. According to the 
Department of Labor, about 15 percent of the total workforce 
would fall into one of those categories.
    As another method to reduce improper benefit payments, VA 
has recently re-instituted an annual certification form that 
requires all individuals receiving means-tested veterans 
benefits to certify their employment and income with VA. Use of 
this annual certification was dropped in the late 1990s and VA 
reports that the number of cases where individuals have been 
discovered to have received these means-tested benefits 
fraudulently has since increased significantly.
    Based on VA's renewed use of the annual certification of 
employment form and the NDNH database's lack of ability to 
account for the total workforce population in the income match, 
CBO estimates that the incremental savings from utilizing the 
NDNH database would be about $2 million per year, or slightly 
less than half of the current $5 million in annual savings VA 
currently receives. As noted above, such added savings 
continues in subsequent years, with cost-of-living and 
mortality adjustments. This section would take effect 270 days 
after enactment of the bill. Therefore, CBO estimates that 
enacting section 2 would result in a decrease to direct 
spending of about $1 million in 2008, $20 million over the 
2008-2012 period, and $37 million over the 2008-2017 period.

Additional eligibility for impairment of vision involving both eyes

    For veterans with a service-connected vision impairment in 
one eye, current law requires that a veteran must be diagnosed 
as blind in both eyes for vision impairment that was not caused 
by military service to be rated as service-connected for the 
purposes of disability compensation. Section 1 would allow 
certain veterans who receive veterans' disability compensation 
for impairment of vision where the impairment in the service-
connected eye is to a visual acuity of 20/200 or less or of a 
peripheral field of 20 degrees or less to receive compensation 
for impairment of vision in the other eye that is equal to or 
greater than the service-connected eye. Thus, the change in 
eligibility would increase the amount of compensation paid to 
certain veterans. In total, CBO estimates that enacting section 
1 would increase direct spending for veterans' compensation by 
less than $500,000 in 2008, $6 million over the 2008-2012 
period, and about $21 million over the 2008-2017 period.
    Veterans Already Receiving Disability Compensation for 
Vision Impairment. The Department of Veterans Affairs reports 
that, as of September 30, 2006, disability compensation was 
being paid for about 125,000 incidences of service-connected, 
eye-related disability among veterans. This figure, however, 
does not reflect the number of unique veterans who receive 
disability compensation for eye-related disabilities, since a 
veteran may exhibit more than one eye-related disability and 
thus be counted more than once in the reported data. VA also 
reports, as of that same date, that there were about 45,000 
unique veterans receiving disability compensation primarily due 
to eye disease or impairment of vision. VA data does not 
indicate whether these veterans were receiving such 
compensation for impairments in one or both eyes.
    Based on information from VA, CBO assumes, for this 
estimate, that the population of roughly 45,000 veterans 
receiving disability compensation primarily because of eye 
disease or impairment of vision would most likely constitute 
the bulk of veterans that would be affected by enactment of 
this bill. Of that population, CBO estimates that about 1,150 
veterans would qualify for increased benefits under section 1. 
That estimate reflects the exclusion of eye diseases that would 
likely not cause impairment of vision (such as the loss of 
eyebrows), and veterans rated as either 100 percent disabled or 
less than 70 percent disabled (ratings that would not be 
eligible for an increase under the bill--a veteran with a 
visual acuity of 20/200 or less in both eyes or a peripheral 
field of 20 degrees or less would be rated at least 70 percent 
disabled). Finally, while VA data does not indicate whether a 
veteran's disability rating considered conditions in one or 
both eyes, VA indicated that between 30 percent and 50 percent 
of the veterans currently on the rolls for eye disabilities 
were rated as service-connected for both eyes. Based on that 
information, CBO estimates that 40 percent of the affected 
population are currently receiving disability compensation for 
service-connected disabilities in both eyes, and therefore, 
would have ratings that would be unaffected by enactment of 
section 1. Thus, CBO estimates that about 700 veterans in 2008 
might qualify for an increase in their disability rating under 
this bill.
    VA indicates that veterans receiving disability 
compensation are, on average, 57 years old. According to 
information from the National Institutes of Health and a report 
on vision loss prepared by researchers at the University of 
Washington, the most common causes of impairment of vision in 
persons age 40 and older are age-related maculopathy, 
cataracts, and glaucoma. Those organizations report that about 
30 percent of persons over the age of 40 experience increased 
impairment of vision due to one or more of those conditions. 
Because VA does not track the progression of vision impairment 
in the veterans' population, CBO assumes that veterans 
experience vision impairment from these same conditions at the 
same rate.
    Thus, CBO estimates that about 200 of the roughly 700 
veterans discussed above would likely experience additional 
vision loss that could qualify them for a disability rating 
increase under the bill. Using data provided by VA, CBO 
estimates that about 15 percent of veterans who are already 
receiving disability compensation apply for a reevaluation of 
their rating each year. After adjusting for claims processing 
times, CBO estimates that just over 30 of these veterans would 
receive an increase in their disability rating in 2008 and that 
number would increase to a little over 300 veterans by 2017.
    In addition, based on VA data, CBO estimates that about 150 
veterans who currently have a disability rating for eye-disease 
or vision impairment between 20 and 60 percent (20 percent is 
the lowest rating a veteran can receive for a service-connected 
visual acuity of 20/200 in one eye) would apply to have their 
rating reevaluated sometime over the 2008-2014 period and would 
have the nonservice-disabled eye evaluated with a visual acuity 
of 20/200 or less or a peripheral field of 20 degrees or less.
    The disability rating for a veteran receiving disability 
compensation for a visual acuity of 20/200 or less or a 
peripheral field of 20 degrees or less in both eyes is 70 
percent and in 2006 the average annual compensation payment for 
that rating was $22,326. Using data from VA about the average 
rating increase for veterans currently on the disability 
compensation rolls with a 70 percent rating, CBO expects that 
the average disability rating for veterans qualifying under the 
bill would increase to 80 percent and that the average annual 
disability compensation payment would increase by $2,388 
(expressed in 2006 dollars). For veterans with a disability 
rating between 20 and 60 percent, and with a visual acuity in 
one eye of 20/200 or less or a peripheral field of 20 degrees 
or less who come in for a reevaluation, CBO expects that they 
would now qualify under section 1 and their average disability 
ratings would increase to 70 percent. After adjusting for cost-
of-living increases and information from VA on individuals 
moving to 70 percent on the disability rolls, CBO estimates 
that enacting this provision would increase direct spending for 
veterans' disability compensation for veterans currently on the 
rolls by less than $500,000 in 2008, about $6 million over the 
2008-2012 period, and $19 million over the 2008-2017 period.
    New Accessions. According to information from VA, in 2006 
there were roughly 2.7 million veterans receiving veterans' 
disability compensation and less than 2 percent of those 
veterans were rated disabled primarily due to eye disease or 
vision impairment. Using both discharge data from the 
Department of Defense, information from VA on new compensation 
cases that enter the rolls at 70 percent disabled, the 
information and assumptions above regarding common eye 
disabilities for persons over age 40, and the rate at which 
veterans return to be reevaluated, CBO also estimates that, 
over the 10-year period, about 150 veterans out of the 
impairment for the first time each year would be eligible for a 
higher disability rating under this bill.
    Assuming that disability ratings for veterans qualifying 
under the bill would increase from 70 percent to 80 percent, 
that the average annual disability compensation payment would 
increase by $2,388 (expressed in 2006 dollars), and that 
payments are adjusted for cost-of living increases, CBO 
estimates that enacting this provision would increase direct 
spending for veterans' disability compensation for veterans 
coming onto VA's disability compensation rolls (i.e., for new 
accessions after enactment) by less than $500,000 in 2008, $1 
million over the 2008-2012 period, and $2 million over the 
2008-2017 period.

Extension of authority for work-study activities

    Under current law, the VA can compensate certain 
individuals for specific work-study programs associated with 
the department, although the eligibility for several of the 
specified programs to participate in work-study would expire in 
June of 2007. Section 3 would extend the eligibility of those 
expiring programs for another two years, through June 2009. 
Based on information from the VA regarding the numbers of 
participants in such programs, CBO estimates that this 
provision would increase direct spending by about $1 million in 
2008 and by less than $500,000 in 2009.

Provision of bronze `V' for graves of eligible individuals in private 
        cemeteries.

    Section 4 would allow VA to provide bronze `V' 
representations to be attached to a headstone or marker of an 
eligible individual at a private cemetery instead of a VA 
provided headstone or marker. According to VA, the cost for 
bronze `V' representations and headstones or markers are 
similar. Therefore, CBO expects there would be no significant 
change in direct spending under this section.
    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: H.R. 797 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in UMRA and would not affect the budgets of state, 
local, or tribal governments.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs: Disability 
Compensation and Burial Benefits--Dwayne M. Wright; Educational 
Assistance--Mike Waters. Impact on State, Local, and Tribal 
Governments: Melissa Merrell. Impact on the Private Sector: 
Victoria Liu.
    Estimate approved by: Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic, existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



PART II--GENERAL BENEFITS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 11--COMPENSATION FOR SERVICE-CONNECTED DISABILITY OR DEATH

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



SUBCHAPTER VI--GENERAL COMPENSATION PROVISIONS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



Sec. 1160. SPECIAL CONSIDERATION FOR CERTAIN CASES OF LOSS OF PAIRED 
                    ORGANS OR EXTREMITIES

  (a) Where a veteran has suffered--
            (1) [blindness] impairment of vision in one eye as 
        a result of service-connected disability and 
        [blindness] impairment of vision in the other eye as a 
        result of non-service-connected disability not the 
        result of the veteran's own willful misconduct, where 
        the impairment in each eye is to a visual acuity of 20/
        200 or less or of a peripheral field of 20 degrees or 
        less;

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 23--BURIAL BENEFITS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



Sec. 2306. HEADSTONES, MARKERS, AND BURIAL RECEPTACLES

  (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (d)(1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (5) In lieu of furnishing a headstone or marker under this 
subsection, the Secretary may furnish, if requested, a bronze 
representation of the letter ``V'' to be attached to a 
headstone or marker furnished at private expense. The Secretary 
shall make such representation available in two sizes for such 
purpose.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


PART III--READJUSTMENT AND RELATED BENEFITS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 34--VETERANS' EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SUBCHAPTER IV--PAYMENTS TO ELIGIBLE VETERANS; VETERAN-STUDENT SERVICES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 3485. WORK-STUDY ALLOWANCE

  (a)(1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (4) For the purposes of this section, the term ``qualifying 
work-study activity'' means any of the following:
            (A) The outreach services program under chapter 63 
        of this title as carried out under the supervision of a 
        Department employee or, during the period preceding 
        [June 30, 2007] June 30, 2009, outreach services to 
        servicemembers and veterans furnished by employees of a 
        State approving agency.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

            (C) The provision of hospital and domiciliary care 
        and medical treatment under chapter 17 of this title, 
        including, during the period preceding [June 30, 2007] 
        June 30, 2009, the provision of such care to veterans 
        in a State home for which payment is made under section 
        1741 of this title.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

            (F) During the period preceding [June 30, 2007] 
        June 30, 2009, an activity relating to the 
        administration of a national cemetery or a State 
        veterans' cemetery.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


PART IV--GENERAL ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


          CHAPTER 53--SPECIAL PROVISIONS RELATING TO BENEFITS

Sec.
5301.    Nonassignability and exempt status of benefits.
     * * * * * * *
5320.    Use of National Directory of New Hires for income verification 
          purposes.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 5320. Use of National Directory of New Hires for income 
                    verification purposes

  (a) Information from National Directory of New Hires.--(1) 
The Secretary shall furnish to the Secretary of Health and 
Human Services, on a quarterly basis or at such intervals as 
may be determined by the Secretary, information in the custody 
of the Secretary for comparison with information in the 
National Directory of New Hires maintained by the Secretary of 
Health and Human Services pursuant to section 453 of the Social 
Security Act (42 U.S.C. 653), in order to obtain the 
information in such directory with respect to individuals under 
the age of 65 who are applicants for or recipients of benefits 
or services specified in subsection (d).
  (2) The Secretary shall seek information pursuant to this 
subsection only to the extent essential to determining 
eligibility for benefits and services specified in subsection 
(d) and the amount of benefits specified in paragraphs (1) and 
(2) of that subsection for individuals under the age of 65.
  (3)(A) The Secretary of Health and Human Services, in 
cooperation with the Secretary, shall compare information in 
the National Directory of New Hires with information in the 
custody of the Secretary furnished pursuant to paragraph (1), 
and disclose information in that Directory to the Secretary, in 
accordance with this subsection, for the purposes specified in 
this subsection.
  (B) The Secretary of Health and Human Services may make a 
disclosure in accordance with subparagraph (A) only to the 
extent that the Secretary determines that such disclosure does 
not interfere with the effective operation of the program under 
part D of title IV of the Social Security Act.
  (4) The Secretary may use information resulting from a data 
match pursuant to this subsection only for the purpose of 
determining eligibility for benefits and services specified in 
subsection (d) and the amount of benefits specified in 
paragraphs (1) and (2) of that subsection.
  (5) The Secretary shall reimburse the Secretary of Health and 
Human Services for the additional costs incurred by that 
Secretary in furnishing information under this subsection. Such 
reimbursement shall be at rates that the Secretary of Health 
and Human Services determines to be reasonable (which rates 
shall include payment for the costs of obtaining, verifying, 
maintaining, and comparing the information).
  (b) Notification to Beneficiaries.--The Secretary shall 
notify each applicant for, or recipient of, a benefit or 
service specified in subsection (d) that income information 
furnished by the applicant to the Secretary may be compared 
with information obtained by the Secretary from the Secretary 
of Health and Human Services under subsection (a). The 
Secretary shall periodically transmit to recipients of such 
benefits additional notifications of such matters.
  (c) Independent Verification Required.--The Secretary may 
not, by reason of information obtained from the Secretary of 
Health and Human Services under subsection (a) , terminate, 
deny, suspend, or reduce any benefit or service described in 
subsection (d) until the Secretary takes appropriate steps to 
verify independently information relating to employment and 
employment income.
  (d) Covered Benefits and Services.--The benefits and services 
specified in this subsection are the following:
            (1) Needs-based pension benefits provided under 
        chapter 15 of this title or under any other law 
        administered by the Secretary.
            (2) Parents' dependency and indemnity compensation 
        provided under section 1315 of this title.
            (3) Health-care services furnished under 
        subsections (a)(2)(G), (a)(3), and (b) of section 1710 
        of this title.
            (4) Compensation paid under chapter 11 of this 
        title 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.
  (e) Limitation with Respect to Individual Unemployability 
Cases.--In the case of compensation described in subsection 
(d)(4), the Secretary may independently verify or otherwise act 
upon wage or self-employment information referred to in 
subsection (c) of this section only if the Secretary finds that 
the amount and duration of the earnings reported in that 
information clearly indicate that the individual is not 
qualified for a rating of total disability.
  (f) Opportunity to Contest Findings.--The Secretary shall 
inform the individual of the findings made by the Secretary on 
the basis of verified information under subsection (c), and 
shall give 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.
  (g) Source of Funds for Administration of Section.--The 
Secretary shall pay the expenses of carrying out this section 
from amounts available to the Department for the payment of 
compensation and pension.
  (h) Termination of Authority.--The authority of the Secretary 
to obtain information from the Secretary of Health and Human 
Services under subsection (a) expires on September 30, 2012.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                   MINORITY VIEWS OF HON. STEVE BUYER

    In my letter of March 8, 2007, objecting to the markup on 
the bills, including H.R. 327, H.R. 612, H.R. 797, and H.R. 
1284 (letter attached), I strongly urged legislative hearings 
on these bills before the markup.
    The Honorable John Boozman offered an amendment that was 
accepted by voice vote, to extend the types of work study jobs 
found in section 3485(a)(4) for two years through June 20, 
2009. This section of title 38 specifies types of jobs that 
qualify for work study benefits (up to 20 hours per week at 
minimum wage). Current law allows work study recipients to 
perform a variety of duties through out VA as well as veteran-
related paperwork at their schools. Public Law 109-461 extended 
these provisions for 6 months to prevent loss of benefits in 
mid-school year.
    Also, the Honorable Doug Lamborn offered an amendment, 
which was accepted by voice vote, to provide families the 
option of choosing a bronze ``V'' denoting ``veteran'' in lieu 
of a VA headstone for graves already marked by a private 
marker. Many private cemeteries do not allow a second marker on 
a grave because it complicates routine maintenance. Therefore, 
a bronze ``V'' would identify a veteran's grave in a manner 
that would be universally acceptable, and meet the families' 
desires to honor the deceased veteran. It would also be readily 
identifiable to anyone visiting the cemetery and a standards 
way to identify veterans who choose not to use a VA-provided 
headstone.
    Had the Committee followed regular order in holding a 
legislative hearing on H.R. 797, the Dr. James Allen Veterans 
Vision Equity Act, the questions about the cost of the bill and 
possible amendments to it, along with the required PAYGO 
offsets to allow it to be considered by the House, could have 
been fully explored well before the markup of the bill. I 
support H.R. 797, as amended.

                                                       Steve Buyer.