RAO Davao City

United States Military Retiree Activities Office Davao City, Philippines

Archive for the 'Veterans Legislation' Category

REAP UPDATE – May 1 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 30th April 2008

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators—including Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Gordon Smith (R-OR), John Kerry (D-MA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Ken Salazar (D-CO), and Evan Bayh (D-IN.)— unveiled their plan 16 APR to provide the men and women of our National Guard and Reserves with benefits that better reflect their increased service to our country. The Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) Enhancement Act of 2008 (S.2871) would make three much-needed improvements to the structure and value of the Montgomery G.I. Bill education benefits for our citizen soldiers by:

• Providing accruable benefits for those who have served multiple deployments;

• Replacing the current three-tiered formula for REAP benefits with one that more accurately reflects service rendered; and

• Shifting jurisdiction of REAP benefits from the Department of Defense to the Veterans Administration (i.e. from Title 10 to Title 38).

The REAP Enhancement Act builds on the progress of Sen. Lincoln’s Total Force Educational Assistance Enhancement and Integration Act of 2007 (S.644). A significant provision of that bill—allowing citizen soldiers who have served combat tours to access their educational benefits for up to ten years following their service, just as active duty soldiers have been able to do—was signed into law as part of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. The REAP Enhancement Act is endorsed by the Military Officers Association of America and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States. [Source: Sen. Sherrod Brown Press Release 16 Apr 08 ++]

Posted in Veterans Legislation | No Comments »

VA BLUE WATER CLAIMS UPDATE – May 1 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 30th April 2008

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has rescinded provisions of its Adjudication Procedures Manual M21-1. 72 FR 66218 (i.e. Manual M21-1) that were found by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Veterans Court) not to have been properly rescinded. This rescission was effective April 15, 2008. Steps leading to this change started on 27 NOV 07 when VA proposed to rescind certain provisions of its Manual M21-1. The notice was necessitated by the opinion rendered by the Veterans Court in Haas v. Nicholson, 20 Vet. App. 257 (2006). Although VA’s appeal of that decision has been submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, that court has not yet issued a decision in the case. In the interim the comment period has ended which allowed VA to proceed with the proposed changes. VA received more than 75 comments, most of which were very similar and can be addressed in three categories:

(1) Citation to scientific evidence, in particular a 2002 study performed for Australia’s Queensland Health Scientific Services by their National Research Center for Environmental Toxicology, titled, Examination of the Potential Exposure of Royal Australian Navy Personnel to Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins and Polychlorinated Dibenzofurans Via Drinking Water (the Australian study);

(2) Personal stories about the commenter’s experiences during service and/or their current illnesses;

(3) Arguments presented in connection with the Haas litigation.

In VA’s view the comments were not substantial enough to halt changes to M21-1 because:

• The cited scientific studies were of minimal relevance due to the manner in which they were conducted

• VA cannot presume exposure to herbicides simply because a veteran has a disease linked to exposure to herbicides.

• VA does not agree with statutory-interpretation arguments that have been presented

to the Federal Circuit in the Haas litigation. Specifically, that the language of 38 U.S.C. 1116 plainly requires that offshore service be considered service “in the Republic of Vietnam” for purposes of that statute. In VA’s opinion, the Veterans Court held that neither the language nor the legislative history of Sec. 1116 reflects a clear intent to treat offshore service as service in the Republic of Vietnam (Haas, 20 Vet. App. at 264- 68). However, they did note that this issue remains pending before the Federal Circuit.

The result of the changes is that you will no longer be able to argue that the receipt of the Vietnam Service medal has any bearing on your veterans claim to exposure to agent orange. (NOTE: if you have a pending claim in effect before or after the original Haas decision, but before the 15 APR08 VA change, whatever the Federal Appeals court decides will govern your entitlement). Bottom line Blue Water Navy can still attempt to show exposure to Agent Orange, but not based on receipt of the Vietnam Service medal (if a claim is filed after April 15, 2008). For additional info refer to http://bluewaternavy.org [Source: VALAW.org Ray B. Davis msg. 17 Apr 08 ++]

Posted in Veterans Interest, Veterans Legislation | No Comments »

VA CLAIM DELAY UPDATE May 1, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 30th April 2008

02: Due to an influx of new claims and the antiquated rules by which the Department of Veterans Affairs must process claims the average processing time has risen from 174 in 2006 to 188 days in 2007. As of APR 08 the number of claims outstanding was 650,000. The Department of Veterans Affairs projects that the number of claims will surpass one million by the end of fiscal year 2008. In an effort to reduce the backlog Congressman John Hall (D-NY-19) on 23 APR introduced HR 5892, the ‘‘Veterans Disability Benefits Claims Modernization Act of 2008’’. This bill is to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to modernize the disability benefits claims processing system of the VA to ensure the accurate and timely delivery of compensation to veterans and their families and survivors, and for other purposes. The legislation specifically focuses on:

• Clarifying combat related disabilities;

• Readjusting the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities;

• Changing the VBA’s work credit and management systems;

• Improving employee certification and training;

• Improving quality assurance measurements;

• Expediting fully-developed claims and improving VCAA notice requirements;

• Ensuring partial ratings for qualifying veterans

• Allowing substitution of qualifying survivors;

• Enhancing information technology; and

• Providing surer appellate justice adding matters related to the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to provide surer appellate justice

[Source: VDBCMA H.R.5892 23 Apr 08 ++]

Posted in Veterans Legislation | No Comments »

H.R.0303: Retired Pay Restoration Act

Posted by Service Officer on 13th April 2008

H.R.0303: Retired Pay Restoration Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit certain additional retired members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs for their disability and either retired pay by reason of their years of military service or Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and to eliminate the phase-in period under current law with respect to such concurrent receipt. Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 1/5/07). Cosponsors (166). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=9240026

Posted in House of Representatives | No Comments »

H.R.0243: Combat Military Medically Retired Veteran’s Fairness Act

Posted by Service Officer on 13th April 2008

H.R.0243: Combat Military Medically Retired Veteran’s Fairness Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the payment of Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) to members of the Armed Forces retired for disability with less than 20 years of active military service who were awarded the Purple Heart. Sponsor: Rep Weller, Jerry [IL-11] (introduced 1/5/07). Cosponsors (12). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

Posted in House of Representatives | No Comments »

H.R.0207: Depleted Uranium Screening and Testing Act

Posted by Service Officer on 13th April 2008

H.R.0207: Depleted Uranium Screening and Testing Act. A bill to provide for identification of members of the Armed Forces exposed during military service to depleted uranium, to provide for health testing of such members, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Serrano, Jose E. [NY-16] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (15). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

Posted in House of Representatives | No Comments »

H.R.0191: Senior Citizens Tax Elimination Act

Posted by Service Officer on 13th April 2008

H.R.0191: Senior Citizens Tax Elimination Act. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the inclusion in gross income of Social Security benefits. Sponsor: Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (11). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Posted in House of Representatives | No Comments »

H.R.0156: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code

Posted by Service Officer on 13th April 2008

H.R.0156: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the payment of dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) to the survivors of former prisoners of war (POWs) who died on or before 30 SEP 99, under the same eligibility conditions as apply to payment of DIC to the survivors of former prisoners of war who die after that date. Sponsor: Rep Holden, Tim [PA-17] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (31). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=9240856

Posted in House of Representatives | No Comments »

H.R.0140: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code

Posted by Service Officer on 13th April 2008

H.R.0140: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to require the amounts reimbursed to institutional providers of health care services under the TRICARE program to be the same as amounts reimbursed under Medicare, and to require the Secretary of Defense to contract for health care services with at least one teaching hospital in urban areas. Sponsor: Rep Green, Gene [TX-29] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors(13). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9329026&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

Posted in House of Representatives | No Comments »

H.R.0136: Identity Theft Notification Act of 2007

Posted by Service Officer on 13th April 2008

H.R.0136: Identity Theft Notification Act of 2007. A bill to amend title II of the Social Security Act to provide that individuals and appropriate authorities are notified by the Commissioner of Social Security of evidence of misuse of the Social Security account numbers of such individuals. Sponsor: Rep Gallegly, Elton [CA-24] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (17). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Social Security.

Posted in House of Representatives | No Comments »