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Veterans Benefits and Economic Welfare Improvement Act of 2010

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 6132) to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a transition program for new veterans, to improve the disability claim system, and for other purposes, as amended.

The Clerk read the title of the bill.

The text of the bill is as follows:
H.R. 6132

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

(a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Veterans Benefits and Economic Welfare Improvement Act of 2010''.

(b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec..1..Short title; table of contents.

Sec..2..Military transition program.

Sec..3..Waiver of claim development period for claims under laws administered by Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sec..4..Tolling of timing of review for appeals of final decisions of Board of Veterans' Appeals.

Sec..5..Exclusion of certain amounts from determination of annual income with respect to pensions for veterans and surviving spouses and children of veterans.

Sec..6..Extension of authority of Secretary of Veterans Affairs to obtain certain income information from other agencies.

Sec..7..VetStar Award program.

Sec..8..Increase in amount of pension for Medal of Honor recipients.

Sec..9..Compliance with Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010.

SEC. 2. MILITARY TRANSITION PROGRAM.

(a) In General.--Chapter 41 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 4114 the following new section:``§4115. Military transition program

``(a) Establishment; Eligibility.--(1) Subject to the availability of appropriations for such purpose, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment and Training shall jointly carry out a program of training to provide eligible veterans with skills relevant to the job market.

``(2) For purposes of this section, the term `eligible veteran' means any veteran whom the Secretary of Veterans Affairs determines--

``(A) is not otherwise eligible for education or training services under this title;

``(B) has not acquired a marketable skill since being separated or released from service in the Armed Forces;

``(C) was discharged under honorable conditions; and

``(D)(i) has been unemployed for at least 90 days during the 180-day period preceding the date of application for the program established under this section; or

``(ii) during such 180-day period received a maximum hourly rate of pay of not more than 150 percent of the Federal minimum wage.

``(b) Apprenticeship or On-the-Job Training Program.--The program established under this section shall provide for payments to employers who provide for eligible veterans a program of apprenticeship or on-the-job training if--

``(1) such program is approved as provided in paragraph (1) or (2) of section 3687(a) of this title;

``(2) the rate of pay for veterans participating in the program is not less than the rate of pay for nonveterans in similar jobs; and

``(3) the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment and Training reasonably expects that--

``(A) the veteran will be qualified for employment in that field upon completion of training; and

``(B) the employer providing the program will continue to employ the veteran at the completion of training.

``(c) Payments to Employers.--(1) Subject to the availability of appropriations for such purpose, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment and Training shall enter into contracts with employers to provide programs of apprenticeship or on-the-job training that meet the requirements of this section. Each such contract shall provide for the payment of the amounts described in paragraph (2) to employers whose programs meet such requirements.

``(2) The amount paid under this section with respect to any eligible veteran for any period shall be 50 percent of the wages paid by the employer to such veteran for such period. Wages shall be calculated on an hourly basis.

``(3)(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B)--

``(i) the amount paid under this section with respect to a veteran participating in the program established under this section may not exceed $20,000 in the aggregate or $1,666.67 per month; and

``(ii) such payments may only be made during the first 12 months of such veteran's participation in the program.

``(B) In the case of a veteran participating in the program on a less than full-time basis, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment and Training may extend the number of months of payments under subparagraph (A) and proportionally adjust the amount of such payments, but the aggregate amount paid with respect to such veteran may not exceed $20,000 and the maximum number of months of such payments may not exceed 24 months.

``(4) Payments under this section shall be made on a quarterly basis.

``(5) Each employer providing a program of apprenticeship or on-the-job training pursuant to this section shall submit to the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment and Training on a quarterly basis a report certifying the wages paid to eligible veterans under such program (which shall be certified by the veteran as being correct) and containing such other information as the Assistant Secretary may specify. Such report shall be submitted in the form and manner required by the Assistant Secretary.

``(d) Authorization of Appropriations.--There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $10,000,000 for each fiscal year for which the program is carried out.

``(e) Reporting.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in coordination with the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment and Training, shall include a description of activities carried out under this section in the annual report prepared submitted under section 529 of this title.

``(f) Termination.--The authority to carry out a program under this section shall terminate on September 30, 2016.''.

(b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 4114 the following new item:

``4115. Military transition program''.

(c) Conforming Amendments.--(1) Subsection (a)(1) of section 3034 of such title is amended by striking ``and 3687'' and inserting ``3687, and 4115''.

(2) Subsections (a)(1) and (c) of section 3241 of such title are each amended by striking ``section 3687'' and inserting ``sections 3687 and 4115''.

(3) Subsection (d)(1) of section 3672 of such title is amended by striking ``and 3687'' and inserting ``3687, and 4115''.

(4) Paragraph (3) of section 4102A(b) of such title is amended by striking ``section 3687'' and inserting ``section 3687 or 4115''.

(d) Effective Date.--The amendments made by this section shall take effect on the date that is one year after the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 3. WAIVER OF CLAIM DEVELOPMENT PERIOD FOR CLAIMS UNDER LAWS ADMINISTERED BY SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

(a) In General.--Section 5101 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

``(d)(1) If a claimant submits to the Secretary a claim that the Secretary determines is a fully developed claim, the Secretary shall provide--

``(A) the claimant with the opportunity to waive any claim development period otherwise made available by the Secretary with respect to such claim; and

``(B) expeditious treatment to such claim.

``(2) If a person submits to the Secretary any written notification sufficient to inform the Secretary that the person plans to submit a fully developed claim and, not later than one year after submitting such notification submits to the Secretary a claim that the Secretary determines is a fully developed claim, the Secretary shall provide expeditious treatment to the claim.

``(3) If the Secretary determines that a claim submitted by a claimant as a fully developed claim is not fully developed, the Secretary shall provide such claimant with the notice described in section 5103(a) within 30 days after the Secretary makes such determination.

``(4) For purposes of this section:

``(A) The term `fully developed claim' means a claim--

``(i) for which the claimant--

``(I) received assistance from a veterans service officer, a State or county veterans service organization, an agent, or an attorney; or

``(II) submits, together with the claim, an appropriate indication that the claimant does not intend to submit any additional information or evidence in support of the claim and does not require additional assistance with respect to the claim; and

``(ii) for which the claimant or the claimant's representative, if any, each signs, dates, and submits a certification in writing stating that, as of such date, no additional information or evidence is available or needs to be submitted in order for the claim to be adjudicated.

``(B) The term `expeditious treatment' means, with respect to a claim for benefits under the laws administered by the Secretary, treatment of such claim so that the claim is fully processed and adjudicated within 90 days after the Secretary receives an application for such claim.''.

(b) Appeals Form Availability.--Subsection (b) of section 5104 of such title is amended--

(1) by striking ``and (2)'' and inserting ``(2)''; and

(2) by inserting before the period at the end the following: ``, and (3) any form or application required by the Secretary to appeal such decision''.

(c) Effective Date.--The amendments made by this section shall apply with respect to claims submitted on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 4. TOLLING OF TIMING OF REVIEW FOR APPEALS OF FINAL DECISIONS OF BOARD OF VETERANS' APPEALS.

(a) In General.--Section 7266(a) of title 38, United States Code, is amended--

(1) by striking ``In order'' and inserting ``(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), in order''; and

(2) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

``(2)(A) The 120-day period described in paragraph (1) shall be extended upon a showing of good cause for such time as justice may require.

``(B) For purposes of this paragraph, it shall be considered good cause if a person was unable to file a notice of appeal within the 120-day period because of the person's service-connected disability.''.

(b) Applicability.--

(1) IN GENERAL.--Paragraph (2) of section 7266(a) of such title, as added by subsection (a), shall apply to a notice of appeal filed with respect to a final decision of the Board of Veterans' Appeals that was issued on or after July 24, 2008.

(2) REINSTATEMENT.--Any petition for review filed with the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims that was dismissed by such Court on or after July 24, 2008, as untimely, shall, upon the filing of a petition by an adversely affected person filed not later than six months after the date of the enactment of this Act, be reinstated upon a showing that the petitioner had good cause for filing the petition on the date it was filed.

SEC. 5. EXCLUSION OF CERTAIN AMOUNTS FROM DETERMINATION OF ANNUAL INCOME WITH RESPECT TO PENSIONS FOR VETERANS AND SURVIVING SPOUSES AND CHILDREN OF VETERANS.

(a) Certain Amounts Paid for Reimbursements and for Pain and Suffering.--Paragraph (5) of section 1503(a) of title 38, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

``(5) payments regarding--

``(A) reimbursements of any kind (including insurance settlement payments) for--

``(i) expenses related to the repayment, replacement, or repair of equipment, vehicles, items, money, or property resulting from--

``(I) any accident (as defined in regulations which the Secretary shall prescribe), but the amount excluded under this subclause shall not exceed the greater of the fair market value or reasonable replacement value of the equipment or vehicle involved at the time immediately preceding the accident;

``(II) any theft or loss (as defined in regulations which the Secretary shall prescribe), but the amount excluded under this subclause shall not exceed the greater of the fair market value or reasonable replacement value of the item or the amount of the money (including legal tender of the United States or of a foreign country) involved at the time immediately preceding the theft or loss; or

``(III) any casualty loss (as defined in regulations which the Secretary shall prescribe), but the amount excluded under this subclause shall not exceed the greater of the fair market value or reasonable replacement value of the property involved at the time immediately preceding the casualty loss; and

``(ii) medical expenses resulting from any accident, theft, loss, or casualty loss (as defined in regulations which the Secretary shall prescribe), but the amount excluded under this clause shall not exceed the costs of medical care provided to the victim of the accident, theft, loss, or casualty loss; and

``(B) pain and suffering (including insurance settlement payments and general damages awarded by a court) related to an accident, theft, loss, or casualty loss, but the amount excluded under this subparagraph shall not exceed an amount determined by the Secretary on a case-by-case basis;''.

(b) Certain Amounts Paid by States and Municipalities as Veterans Benefits.--Section 1503(a) of title 38, United States Code, is amended--

(1) by striking ``and'' at the end of paragraph (10);

(2) by redesignating paragraph (11) as paragraph (12); and

(3) by inserting after paragraph (10) the following new paragraph (11):

``(11) payment of a monetary amount of up to $5,000 to a veteran from a State or municipality that is paid as a veterans' benefit due to injury or disease; and''.

(c) Effective Date.--The amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) shall apply with respect to determinations of income for calendar years beginning after October 1, 2011.

SEC. 6. EXTENSION OF AUTHORITY OF SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS TO OBTAIN CERTAIN INCOME INFORMATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES.

Section 5317 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking ``September 30, 2011'' and inserting ``September 30, 2015''.

SEC. 7. VETSTAR AWARD PROGRAM.

(a) Establishment.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall establish an award program, to be known as the ``VetStar Award Program'', to annually recognize businesses for their contributions to veterans' employment.

(b) Administration.--The Secretary shall establish a process for the administration of the award program, including criteria for--

(1) categories and sectors of businesses eligible for recognition each year; and

(2) objective measures to be used in selecting businesses to receive the award.

(c) Veteran Defined.--In this section, the term ``veteran'' has the meaning given that term in section 101(2) of title 38, United States Code.

SEC. 8. INCREASE IN AMOUNT OF PENSION FOR MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS.

Section 1562(a) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking ``$1,000'' and inserting ``$2,000''.

SEC. 9. COMPLIANCE WITH STATUTORY PAY-AS-YOU-GO ACT OF 2010.

The budgetary effects of this Act, for the purpose of complying with the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010, shall be determined by reference to the latest statement titled ``Budgetary Effects of PAYGO Legislation'' for this Act, submitted for printing in the Congressional Record by the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, provided that such statement has been submitted prior to the vote on passage.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the bill, H.R. 6132.

Once again, this attacks a part of the employment problem that I mentioned earlier, and many members of our committee worked on this. Not only Chairwoman Herseth Sandlin of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity but its ranking member, Mr. Boozman, plus our colleagues Mr. Welch from Vermont and Mr. Teague from New Mexico. It again helps our veterans find jobs. And Congressman Donnelly from Indiana, Congressman Adler from New Jersey, and Congressman Hastings of Florida all contributed to this, along with Chairman HALL of the Disability Assistance Subcommittee and his Ranking Member LAMBORN of Colorado.

I reserve the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


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