Congressional Record Statement of Senator Daniel K. Akaka
Mr. President, as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, I introduce legislation today to correct an inequity which affects a small number of couples where both the husband and wife are wartime veterans and each meets the criteria for VA pension with additional aid and attendance benefits. Currently these couples receive annual benefits of $30,480. Under my bill, the annual amount would be increased by $825 to $31,305.
This measure would correct a mistake which occurred in 1998 with the enactment of Public Law 105-178. Section 8206 of that law increased the aid and attendance rates for veterans in receipt of VA pension who were in need of aid and attendance. Due to a drafting error, this increase was not provided to couples where both members were pension receipients in need of aid and attendence. This bill would correct that mistake by bringing the pension of a wartime veteran couple eligible for pension and aid and attendance into conformity with what their peers receive.
This is an appropriate result. Both members of such couples served our Nation with honor. In their time of need, they should not be short-changed by this mistake. Although only a small number of veterans qualify for this benefit, those who do so often pay large amounts of money to receive care in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, or at home. My bill would increase the amounts paid so that each member of the couple would have their service taken into account in determining the benefit level.
I urge our colleagues to support this bill so that all veterans who served during wartime and are eligible for VA pension receive the same benefit payments and no member of a wartime veteran couple is shortchanged.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.
May 13, 2010