WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, held a hearing today reviewing pending veterans’ benefits legislation. The committee questioned witnesses and reviewed legislation in preparation for next month’s scheduled markup.
“Improving the vocational rehabilitation program and easing the burden on combat veterans seeking disability compensation will help veterans receive the benefits they have earned through their service,” said Akaka.
The bills reviewed at today’s hearing include:
• S. 407, the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2009:
This bill would provide a cost-of-living increase for millions of disabled veterans and their families by updating veterans’ disability compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children, and additional related benefits.
• S. 514, the Veterans Rehabilitation and Training Improvements Act of 2009:
Following the enactment of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, this legislation would upgrade the other critical aspect of VA’s education and training benefits system: rehabilitation for disabled veterans. S. 514 would increase VA’s flexibility in paying for veterans’ rehabilitation-related expenses, boost the living stipend for rehabilitating veterans, and remove the existing cap on participation in VA’s independent living services.
• S. 728, the Veterans’ Insurance and Benefits Enhancement Act of 2009:
This comprehensive bill focuses on providing assistance to veterans disabled while serving their country and assisting veterans as they transition from military to civilian life. Improvements include a new insurance program for disabled veterans, better coverage options for existing insurance programs, extended benefits for burn injured servicemembers and veterans, and increases to certain benefits that have not been updated for many years for veterans and their survivors.
• S. 919, the Clarification of Characteristics of Combat Service Act of 2009:
S. 919 would ease the burden on many combat veterans seeking compensation for service-connected disabilities. VA would be required to issue regulations including standards that VA adjudicators would use for evaluating the consistency between lay evidence and claimed matters, such as exposure to factors common to servicemembers serving in particular combat areas.
April 29, 2009