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112th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                     112-82

======================================================================
 
      VETERANS' COMPENSATION COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENT ACT OF 2011

                                _______
                                

  May 20, 2011.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

    Mr. Miller of Florida, from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, 
                        submitted the following



                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 1407]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 1407) to increase, effective as of December 1, 
2011, the rates of compensation for veterans with service-
connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and 
indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled 
veterans, and for other purposes, having considered the same, 
report favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend that 
the bill as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Amendment........................................................     2
Purpose and Summary..............................................     2
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     3
Hearings.........................................................     4
Subcommittee Consideration.......................................     5
Committee Consideration..........................................     5
Committee Votes..................................................     5
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     5
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............     5
New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures     5
Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits.............................     6
Committee Cost Estimate..........................................     6
Congressional Budget Office Estimate.............................     6
Federal Mandates Statement.......................................     7
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................     7
Applicability to Legislative Branch..............................     7
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................     8
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill as Reported.............     9

                               Amendment

    The amendment is as follows:

Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to the Committee Print for H.R. 
                 1407 Offered by Mr. Miller of Florida

  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as ``Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living 
Adjustment Act of 2011''.

SEC. 2. INCREASE IN RATES OF DISABILITY COMPENSATION AND DEPENDENCY AND 
                    INDEMNITY COMPENSATION.

  (a) Rate Adjustment.--Effective on December 1, 2011, the Secretary of 
Veterans Affairs shall increase, in accordance with subsection (c), the 
dollar amounts in effect on November 30, 2011, for the payment of 
disability compensation and dependency and indemnity compensation under 
the provisions specified in subsection (b).
  (b) Amounts To Be Increased.--The dollar amounts to be increased 
pursuant to subsection (a) are the following:
          (1) Wartime disability compensation.--Each of the dollar 
        amounts under section 1114 of title 38, United States Code.
          (2) Additional compensation for dependents.--Each of the 
        dollar amounts under section 1115(1) of such title.
          (3) Clothing allowance.--The dollar amount under section 1162 
        of such title.
          (4) Dependency and indemnity compensation to surviving 
        spouse.--Each of the dollar amounts under subsections (a) 
        through (d) of section 1311 of such title.
          (5) Dependency and indemnity compensation to children.--Each 
        of the dollar amounts under sections 1313(a) and 1314 of such 
        title.
  (c) Determination of Increase.--
          (1) Percentage.--Except as provided in paragraph (2), each 
        dollar amount described in subsection (b) shall be increased by 
        the same percentage as the percentage by which benefit amounts 
        payable under title II of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 
        401 et seq.) are increased effective December 1, 2011, as a 
        result of a determination under section 215(i) of such Act (42 
        U.S.C. 415(i)).
          (2) Rounding.--Each dollar amount increased under paragraph 
        (1), if not a whole dollar amount, shall be rounded to the next 
        lower whole dollar amount.
  (d) Special Rule.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs may adjust 
administratively, consistent with the increases made under subsection 
(a), the rates of disability compensation payable to persons under 
section 10 of Public Law 85-857 (72 Stat. 1263) who have not received 
compensation under chapter 11 of title 38, United States Code.

SEC. 3. PUBLICATION OF ADJUSTED RATES.

  The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall publish in the Federal 
Register the amounts specified in section 2(b), as increased under that 
section, not later than the date on which the matters specified in 
section 215(i)(2)(D) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 
415(i)(2)(D)) are required to be published by reason of a determination 
made under section 215(i) of such Act during fiscal year 2012.

SEC. 4. EXTENSION OF AUTHORITY OF THE SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS TO 
                    PROVIDE SPECIALLY ADAPTED HOUSING ASSISTANCE TO 
                    INDIVIDUALS RESIDING TEMPORARILY IN HOUSING OWNED 
                    BY A FAMILY MEMBER.

  (a) Short Title.--This section may be cited as the ``Andrew Connolly 
Veterans' Housing Act''.
  (b) Extension.--Section 2102A(e) of title 38, United States Code, is 
amended by striking ``December 31, 2011'' and inserting ``December 31, 
2016''.

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 1407 was introduced on April 12, 2011, by 
Representative Jon Runyan of New Jersey. H.R. 1407, as amended, 
would increase, effective as of December 1, 2011, the rates of 
compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities 
and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the 
survivors of certain disabled veterans, and would extend 
through December 31, 2016, the authority of the Secretary of 
Veterans Affairs to provide specially adapted housing 
assistance to individuals residing temporarily in housing owned 
by a family member.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    Increase in rates of disability compensation and dependency 
and indemnity compensation.--Section 2 of H.R. 1407, as 
amended, would increase, effective December 1, 2011, the rates 
of compensation for service-connected disabilities and the 
rates of dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) for 
surviving spouses and children of veterans who die of service-
connected causes, as well as the additional amounts for 
dependents and survivors, and clothing allowances for certain 
veterans. Congress has provided annual increases in these rates 
for every Fiscal Year since 1976.
    The Committee is following its longstanding practice of 
setting the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) by reference to 
the yet-to-be-determined Social Security increase. At the time 
of the filing of this report, the increase is expected to be 
1.1 percent, but it may be higher or lower depending on changes 
in the Consumer Price Index.
    The basic purpose of the disability compensation program is 
to provide relief from the impaired earning capacity of 
veterans disabled as the result of their military service. The 
amount of compensation payable varies according to the degree 
of disability. This amount in turn is required by law to 
represent, to the extent practicable, the average impairment in 
earning capacity in civilian occupations resulting from such 
disability or combination of disabilities.
    To be eligible to receive disability compensation, a 
veteran must have a disability incurred or aggravated during 
military service, which is not the result of willful 
misconduct, and have been discharged under other than 
dishonorable conditions. The responsibility for determining a 
veteran's entitlement to service-connection for a disability 
rests with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
    Surviving spouses and dependent children of veterans who 
died of disabilities determined by VA to be service-connected 
(including veterans who died while on active duty) or who had a 
service-connected disability rated at 100 percent for certain 
periods of time prior to death are entitled to receive monthly 
DIC benefits. Additional amounts are paid to survivors who are 
housebound, in need of aid and attendance, or who have minor 
children. The purpose of DIC benefits authorized under chapter 
13 of title 38, United States Code, is to provide partial 
compensation to the appropriate survivors for the loss in 
financial support due to the service-connected death. Income 
and need are not factors in determining a surviving spouse's or 
child's entitlement because the Nation, in part, assumes the 
legal and moral obligation of the veteran to support the spouse 
and children.
    Five-year extension of the temporary residence adaptation 
grant.--The temporary residence adaptation (TRA) grant was 
enacted under Public Law 109-233. The law allows for certain 
service-disabled veterans or servicemembers to receive a TRA 
grant while the individual is temporarily living with a family 
member. The TRA grant program is available to veterans and 
servicemembers who have been rated eligible for the Specially 
Adapted Housing (SAH) grant under section 2101(a) of title 38, 
United States Code, or the Special Home Adaptation (SHA) grant 
under section 2101(b) of title 38, United States Code. Each 
grant may only be paid once per eligible veteran or 
servicemember. The SAH grant pays a maximum of $63,780; the SHA 
grant pays a maximum of $12,756. Grant assistance under the 
SAH, the SHA and, by extension, the TRA, is used to either 
purchase or adapt homes so that those with serious injuries can 
maneuver throughout their residence. Wheelchair ramps, widened 
doorways, and hand rails are a few of the common adaptations 
made using grant assistance.
    Based on the applicable grant program for which a veteran 
or servicemember is eligible, and based on the home adaptations 
that are necessary, up to $14,000 of the $63,780 maximum SAH 
grant, and up to $2,000 of the $12,756 maximum SHA grant, may 
be used under the TRA program. The money is allocated from an 
individual's entitlement to the SAH or SHA grant, thereby 
reducing remaining entitlement left for use at a later point.
    According to VA, there have only been 24 TRA grants awarded 
since enactment of Public Law 109-233. As servicemembers 
continue to return home with serious wartime injuries they may 
be unable to live alone due to the nature of their injuries, 
for economic reasons, or other factors, which may make it 
necessary for them to live at the home with a family member. It 
is the Committee's expectation that VA will be proactive in 
informing eligible veterans and servicemembers about the TRA 
program so that all who may benefit from it, particularly those 
returning from combat zones with serious injuries, are able to 
do so.

                                Hearings

    On May 3, 2011, the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance 
and Memorial Affairs conducted a legislative hearing on various 
bills introduced during the 112th Congress, including H.R. 1407 
and H.R. 1671 (from which section 4 of H.R. 1407, as amended, 
is derived). The following witnesses testified: Ms. Christina 
M. Roof, National Acting Legislative Director, AMVETS; Mr. 
Jeffrey C. Hall, Assistant National Legislative Director, 
Disabled American Veterans; Mr. Shane Barker, Senior 
Legislative Associate, National Legislative Service, Veterans 
of Foreign Wars of the United States; Mr. Barton F. Stichman, 
Joint Executive Director, National Veterans Legal Service 
Program; The Honorable Bruce E. Kasold, Chief Judge, United 
States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims; and Ms. Diana M. 
Rubens, Associate Deputy Under Secretary for Field Operations, 
Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans 
Affairs, who was accompanied by Mr. Richard J. Hipolit, 
Assistant General Counsel, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; 
and Mr. Steve Keller, Acting Chairman, Board of Veterans' 
Appeals, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
    Those submitting statements for the record included: 
Paralyzed Veterans of America.

                       Subcommittee Consideration

    On May 5, 2011, the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance 
and Memorial Affairs met in an open markup session and ordered 
favorably forwarded to the full Committee H.R. 1407, as 
amended, by voice vote. During consideration of the bill the 
following amendment in the nature of a substitute was 
considered:
    An amendment in the nature of a substitute by Subcommittee 
Chairman Jon Runyan of New Jersey make a technical change was 
agreed to by voice vote.

                        Committee Consideration

    On May 12, 2011, the full Committee met in an open markup 
session, a quorum being present and ordered reported favorably 
to the House of Representatives H.R. 1407, as amended, by voice 
vote. During consideration of the bill, the following amendment 
was considered:
    An amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by 
Chairman Jeff Miller of Florida, extending the authority of the 
Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide specially adapted 
housing assistance to individuals residing temporarily in 
housing owned by a family member was agreed to by voice vote.

                            Committee Votes

    Clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires the Committee to list the record votes 
on the motion to report the legislation and amendments thereto. 
There were no record votes taken on amendments or in connection 
with ordering H.R. 1407, as amended, reported to the House. A 
motion by Ranking Member Bob Filner of California to order H.R. 
1407, as amended, reported favorably to the House of 
Representatives was agreed to by voice vote.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    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.

         Statement 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.

   New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee adopts as its 
own the estimate of new budget authority, entitlement 
authority, or tax expenditures or revenues contained in the 
cost estimate prepared by the Director of the Congressional 
Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional 
Budget Act of 1974.

                  Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits

    H.R. 1407, as amended, does not contain any Congressional 
earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as 
defined in clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives.

                        Committee Cost Estimate

    The Committee adopts as its own the cost estimate on H.R. 
1407, as amended, prepared by the Director of the Congressional 
Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional 
Budget Act of 1974.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the following is the cost estimate 
for H.R. 1407, as amended, provided by the Congressional Budget 
Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act 
of 1974:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                      Washington, DC, May 16, 2011.
Hon. Jeff Miller,
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. 1407, the 
Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2011.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Dwayne M. 
Wright.
            Sincerely,
                                    Douglas W. Elmendorf, Director.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 1407--Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2011

    H.R. 1407 would extend the authority of the Department of 
Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide certain housing grants and 
increase the rates of disability compensation and dependency 
and indemnity compensation by the same cost-of-living 
adjustment (COLA) applied to Social Security benefits. CBO 
estimates that enacting H.R. 1407 would increase direct 
spending by less than $500,000 over the 2012-2021 period, 
relative to CBO's baseline projections.
    Section 2 would increase the amounts paid to veterans for 
disability compensation and to their survivors for dependency 
and indemnity compensation by the same COLA payable to Social 
Security recipients. The increase would take effect on December 
1, 2011, and the resulting adjustment would be rounded to the 
next lower dollar.
    The COLA that would be authorized by this bill is assumed 
in CBO's baseline, consistent with section 257 of the Balanced 
Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act, and savings from 
rounding it down were achieved by the Balanced Budget Act of 
1997 (Public Law 105-33) as extended by the Veterans Benefits 
Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-183).
    Because the COLA is assumed in CBO's baseline, section 2 
would have no budgetary effect relative to the baseline. 
Relative to current law, CBO estimates that enacting this bill 
would increase spending for those programs by $475 million in 
fiscal year 2012. (The annualized cost would be about $630 
million in subsequent years.) This estimate assumes that the 
COLA effective on December 1, 2011, would be 1.1 percent.
    Section 4 of the bill would extend by five years VA's 
authority to provide adaptive housing grants to veterans 
residing temporarily in housing owned by a family member. Under 
current law, veterans who are classified by VA as totally 
disabled and who have certain mobility limitations are entitled 
to receive housing grants of up to $63,780 to be used to 
purchase, construct, or modify a home to meet their specific 
needs. Totally disabled veterans who are blind or have lost the 
use of their hands are entitled to receive grants of up to 
$12,756 for those same purposes.
    Qualifying veterans may use up to $14,000 from the larger 
grant or $2,000 from the smaller grant to adapt the home of a 
family member when the veteran resides with that family member 
temporarily; this pilot program will expire on December 31, 
2011. Section 4 would extend that authority to December 31, 
2016.
    Based on recent rates of usage of this benefit, CBO 
estimates that, over the five years of the proposed extension, 
about 35 veterans would use those grants to modify a family 
member's home, with each grant averaging about $13,600. If 
enacted, CBO estimates section 4 would increase direct spending 
by less than $500,000 over the 2012-2017 period.
    Enacting H.R. 1407 would affect direct spending; therefore, 
pay-as-you-go procedures apply. However, CBO estimates that the 
net effects would be insignificant for each year. Enacting the 
bill would not affect revenues.
    H.R. 1407 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Dwayne M. 
Wright. The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                       Federal Mandates Statement

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates regarding H.R. 1407, as amended, prepared by the 
Director of the Congressional Budget Office pursuant to section 
423 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

                      Advisory Committee Statement

    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act would be created by H.R. 
1407, as amended.

                  Applicability to Legislative Branch

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act.

             Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation


Section 1. Short title

    This section would provide the short title of H.R. 1407, as 
amended, as the ``Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living 
Adjustment Act of 2011.''

Section 2.

    Section 2(a) authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
to increase, effective December 1, 2011, the dollar amounts in 
effect for the payment of disability compensation and 
dependency and indemnity compensation.
    Section 2(b) specifies the amounts to be increased.
    Section 2(b)(1) increases the Wartime Disability 
Compensation, under section 1114 of title 38, United States 
Code.
    Section 2(b)(2) increases the Additional Compensation for 
Dependents, under section 1115(1) of title 38, United States 
Code.
    Section 2(b)(3) increases the Clothing Allowance, under 
section 1162 of title 38, United States Code.
    Section 2(b)(4) increases the Dependency and Indemnity 
Compensation to Surviving Spouses, under section 1311 of title 
38, United States Code.
    Section 2(b)(5) increases the Dependency and Indemnity 
Compensation to Children, under section 1313(a) and 1314 of 
title 38, United States Code.
    Section 2(c) addresses how increases shall be determined.
    Section 2(c)(1) specifies that each amount shall be 
increased by the same percentage by which benefits are 
increased under title II of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 
401 et seq.).
    Section 2(c)(2) rounds down to the next lower dollar amount 
all compensation and DIC benefits, when the amount is not a 
whole dollar amount.
    Section 2(d) provides a special rule authorizing the 
Secretary of Veterans Affairs to adjust administratively, 
consistent with the increases made under subsection (a), the 
rates of disability compensation payable to persons within the 
purview of section 10 of Public Law 85-857, who are not in 
receipt of compensation payable pursuant to chapter 11 of title 
38, United States Code.
    Section 3. Would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
to publish in the Federal Register the amounts specified in 
subsection 2(b), as increased pursuant to that section.

Section 4. Extension of Authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
        to provide specially adapted housing assistance to individuals 
        residing temporarily in housing owned by a family member

    Section 4(a) provides that Section 4 of this bill may be 
cited as the ``Andrew Connelly Veterans' Housing Act.''
    Section 4(b) extends Section 2102A of title 38, United 
States Code, authorizing the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to 
provide specially adapted housing assistance to individuals 
residing temporarily in housing owned by a family member, for a 
period of five years ending on December 31, 2016.

         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 21--SPECIALLY ADAPTED HOUSING FOR DISABLED VETERANS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



Sec. 2102A. Assistance for individuals residing temporarily in housing 
                    owned by a family member

    (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    (e) Termination.--No assistance may be provided under this 
section after [December 31, 2011] December 31, 2016.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *