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AND TRAINING FOR CHILDREN OF SERVICE-CONNECTED PERMANENTLY AND TOTALLY DISABLED VETERANS
THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 1957
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 10 a. m., pursuant to adjournment, in room 356, Old House Office Building, Hon. Olin E. Teague, chairman, presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. The committee is meeting this morning to consider H. R. 5930 and without objection I will insert at this point a copy of this bill and the departmental reports thereon.
(The above-mentioned document follows:)
[H. R. 5930, 85th Cong., 1st sess.) A BILL To amend the War Orphans' Educational Assistance Act of 1956 to provide edu
cational assistance thereunder to the children of veterans who are permanently and totally disabled from wartime service-connected disability, and for other purposes
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That section 101 of the War Orphans' Educational Assistance Act of 1956 (38 U. S. C. 1031) is amended by striking out “death” both times it occurs and inserting in lieu thereof "disability or death".
SEC. 2. Paragraph (4) of section 102 of such Act (38 U. S. C. 1031) is amended by inserting immediately after "who died of” the following: ", or who has a total disability permanent in nature resulting from,”.
Sec. 3. (a) Subparagraph (C) of paragraph (2) of subsection (a) of section 203 of such Act (38 U. S. C. 1053) is amended by inserting immediately after "occurs" the following: ", or the Administrator finds that the parent from whom eligibility is derived has a service-connected total disability permanent in nature,”.
(b) Such paragraph (2) is further amended by striking out “or the death of such parent" and inserting in lieu thereof “the date the Administrator finds that the parent from whom eligibility is derived has a service-connected disability permanent in nature, or the date of death of the parent from whom eligibility is derived".
SEC. 4. Title V of such Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following:
"Fund for Children of Disabled War Veterans "SEC. 514. (a) There is created on the books of the Treasury a fund, to be known as the 'Fund for Children of Disabled War Veterans'. The Secretary of the Treasury shall invest and reinvest such fund in interest-bearing obligations of the United States or in obligations guaranteed as to principal and interest by the United States, or both, and may sell such obligations for the purposes of such fund. Payments from the fund shall be made upon and in accordance with awards by the Administrator.
“(b) The fund shall be used to pay education and training allowances and special training allowances to children entitled to educational assistance under
this Act by reason of a parent's service-connected disability of a permanent nature.
"(c) The fund shall consist of all sums covered into the Treasury after the date of enactment of this section under section 39 of the Trading. With the Enemy Act. Immediately upon the enactment of this section, the Attorney General shall cover into the Treasury of the United States, for deposit into the Fund for Children of Disabled War Veterans' $100,000,000 from property vested in or transferred to him under the Trading With the Enemy Act."
Washington 25, D. C., April 3, 1957.
House of Representatives, Washington 25, D. C. DEAR MR. TEAGUE: This will refer to your request for a report by the Veterans' Administration on H, R. 5930, 85th Congress, a bill to amend the War Orphans' Educational Assistance Act of 1956 to provide educational assistance thereunder to the children of veterans who are permanently and totally disabled from wartime service-connected disability, and for other purposes.
H. R. 5930 proposes to afford educational assistance to the children of persons who have a total disability which is permanent in nature resulting from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty in active service in the Armed Forces during World War I, World War II, or the Korean conflict on the same terms as it is now provided the children of persons who died from injuries or disease so caused. The benefit proposed to be extended would take the form of a monetary educational assistance allowance while pursuing a program of education or special restorative training in those cases where a manifest physical or mental disability handicaps such a child in the pursuit of a program of education.
The bill would be a direct amendment of the War Orphans' Educational Assistance Act, and, hence, the educational assistance would be afforded in accordance with the terms of the act. Section 4 of the bill, however, provides a novel method of financing the program in that a “Fund for Children of Disabled War Veterans” would be established on the books of the Treasury, to consist of an initial deposit of $100 million from property vested in or transferred to the Attorney General under the Trading With the Enemy Act, to be augmented by all sums covered into the Treasury under section 39 of that act after the date of enactment of the bill. It is assumed that the committee will look to the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury for information and comments with respect to this method of financing the proposed benefit.
The War Orphans' Educational Assistance Act of 1956 was a recent expansion of what had theretofore been regarded as the proper scope of the Federal obligation in assisting dependents of deceased war veterans. Previously, the Government sought to fulfill its obligations in this regard through a well-established program of monetary benefits in the form of death compensation. While under veterans' laws a person is regarded as ceasing to be a child on attaining the age of 18 years, death compensation is continued for children between the ages of 18 and 21 who are attending approved schools.
With respect to persons disabled as the result of their military service, the Government has, with limited exceptions, sought to provide assistance through a system of periodic monetary payments rather than attempting to provide necessary aid in kind. The amount of the disability compensation is generally geared to the degree of disablement. However, veterans whose service-connected disabilities are rated not less than 50 percent are entitled under Public Law 877, 80th Congress, as amended, to additional compensation where they have dependents, including wife, children, and dependent parents. Like death compensation, additional compensation under Public Law 877 is ordinarily only payable on account of an unmarried child under 18 years of age. However, special provision is made for the continuation of such additional compensation for children between the ages of 18 and 21 who are attending school.
H. R. 5930 would depart from this principle and would afford children of permanently and totally disabled veterans assistance in obtaining an education through a specific program. Moreover, the quantum of the benefit under the War Orphans' Educational Assistance Act is very substantially greater than the amounts now available to such children through the continuation during school attendance of the additional compensation payable under Public Law 877. For example, Public Law 877 provides for additional compensation of $14 a month in the case of a severely disabled veteran with 1 child, but no wife; and an increase of $35 per month in the case of such a veteran with 3 or more children, but no wife. Contrasted with these amounts, the War Orphans' Educational Assistance Act provides for payments of as much as $110 per month on account of each eligible child pursuing a program of education.
The hearings before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs on March 15 and 19, 1956, on H. R. 9824, 84th Congress, and other bills to provide educational assistance to the children of persons who died during World War II and the Korean conflict, included consideration of a bill (H. R. 9392) to extend such a benefit to the children of persons permanently and totally disabled as the result of service during those periods. Moreover, the printed record of the hearing shows that some discussion took place with respect to the question of including this last-mentioned category of children within the class of beneficiaries eligible under the bill which became the War Orphans' Educational Assistance Act. H. R. 9824, both as reported by the committee and as enacted as the War Orphans' Educational Assistance Act of 1956, however, confined the new benefit to children of deceased war veterans.
The bill, therefore, poses an important question of national policy concerning the proper scope of the Government's obligation to children of disabled veterans and the extent that the Government should, or for that matter is able to, extend its bounty beyond the area of the obligations which have been traditionally recognized. As heretofore noted, compensation for disabled living veterans has generally been predicated upon the concept that the rate of compensation should chiefly reflect the degree of disablement, although the additional amounts provided by Public Law 877 afford a differential based on dependency.
The committee will undoubtedly consider in its review of the proposal contained in H. R. 5930 that affording a specific benefit of this nature for the designated beneficiaries will undoubtedly create pressure for similar treatment for the survivors or dependents of other groups; as for example, for the surviving children of servicemen who were severely disabled as a result of their service but who are not rated totally and permanently disabled. Gradual extension of educational assistance to new classes of beneficiaries conceivably could lead to the eventual proposal that children of any disabled veteran be provided education under the War Orphans' Educational Assistance Act, no matter how slight his disability was. While such a result might seem to be farfetched, each intermediate step would not seem unreasonable since the equities distinguishing any group provided the benefit from same excluded group would be so blurred that any line of demarcation would be more or less arbitrary. The precedential aspects of the measure are, therefore, probably of equal or greater importance in this instance than the immediate effect of the bill.
It should be noted that the criteria “total disability, permanent in nature,” will require adjudication on an individual basis. While under the 1925 Rating Schedule disabilities of veterans were rated either on a temporary or a permanent basis, in the subsequent 1933 and 1945 Rating Schedule disability is evaluated on average impairment of earning capacity and no differentiation is made between permanent and temporary disabilities. Hence, it would be necessary to make a determination in the case of each application from a child of a totally disabled veteran whether there existed permanency of such condition.
As a purely technical comment, attention is invited to the fact that the phrase "education and training allowances” (lines 3 and 4, p. 3) should be "educational assistance allowances," to conform with the nomenclature of the War Orphans' Educational Assistance Act. Further, it would appear that the word "total" should be inserted after the phrase "service-connected" in line 12 on page 2 and in line 6 on page 3.
In view of the foregoing, particularly the precedential aspects, the Veterans' Administration is unable to recommend favorable consideration of H. R. 5930 by your committee.
It is extremely difficult to make a precise estimate of the cost which might accrue under the proposal since information concerning the proportion of the totally disabled whose disabilities would be deemed to be permanent in nature is not available at this time. Also, children of veterans who are not now rated totally disabled may become eligible at such time as their parents are rated totally disabled, and many children as yet unborn will also become eligible for training at some time in the future. On the rolls of the Veterans' Administration there are approximately one-half as many children of veterans rated totally dis