SUMMARY AS OF:
9/16/2008--Passed Senate amended. (There are 2 other
Title I: Compensation and Pension Matters - (Sec.
101) Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs
(Secretary) to prescribe regulations specifying the
contents of a currently-required notice to claimants of
a complete or substantially complete application,
including regarding: (1) different contents for notice
depending on whether the claim is an original claim, a
claim for reopening a prior decision on a claim, or a
claim for increased benefits; (2) additional or
alternative contents depending on the benefit or
services sought; (3) for each type of claim for
benefits, the general information and evidence required;
and (4) applicable time limitations.
(Sec. 102) Authorizes the U.S. Court of Appeals for
Veterans Claims to review actions taken by the Secretary
with respect to the adoption and revision of the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) schedule for the
rating of veterans' disabilities.
(Sec. 103) Requires that, whenever there is an increase
in benefit amounts payable under title II (Old Age,
Survivors and Disability Insurance) of the Social
Security Act, the Secretary shall increase by the same
percentage the amounts payable as veterans' disability
compensation, additional compensation for dependents,
the clothing allowance for certain disabled adult
children, and dependency and indemnity compensation for
surviving spouses and children.
(Sec. 104) Makes a technical correction to the Wounded
(Sec. 105) Directs the Secretary to report to the
congressional veterans committees on progress in
addressing the causes of variances in compensation
payments for veterans for service-connected
(Sec. 106) Requires a report from the Secretary to
Congress on findings and actions proposed after the
completion of studies concerning: (1) appropriate levels
of disability compensation for loss of earning capacity
and quality of life as a result of service-related
disabilities; and (2) the feasibility and appropriate
level of long-term transition payments to veterans
separated from the Armed Forces due to disability while
undergoing rehabilitation for such disability.
Title II: Housing Matters - (Sec. 201) Provides a
temporary increase, from the date of enactment of this
Act through December 31, 2011, in the maximum veterans'
loan guaranty amount for certain housing loans
guaranteed by the VA.
(Sec. 202) Increases, for veterans with home loans, the
maximum percentage of an existing loan that the VA will
(Sec. 203) Extends through FY2012 VA demonstration
projects involving adjustable rate and hybrid adjustable
(Sec. 204) Allows the VA to provide residence assistance
grants to active-duty personnel suffering from a
disability incurred in or aggravated by such service.
(Sec. 205) Requires a report from the Secretary to the
veterans committees on the effects of mortgage
foreclosures on veterans.
Title III: Labor and Education Matters - Subtitle
A: Labor and Employment Matters - (Sec. 301) Allows the
VA program of independent living services and assistance
for severely-disabled veterans to extend beyond its
normal 24-month limit in the case of veterans who served
on active duty during the post-9/11 Global Operations
period and whose severe disability was incurred in such
(Sec. 302) Amends provisions concerning servicemembers'
employment and reemployment rights and benefits under
the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment
Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) to require: (1) complainants
to be notified of their rights within five days after
receipt of the complaint by the Department of Labor's
Veterans' Employment and Training Service; (2) complaint
investigation and resolution to be completed within 90
days after their receipt; and (3) the Office of Special
Counsel or Attorney General, within 60 days after
receiving a complaint referral, to determine whether to
provide legal representation to the claimant, and to
notify the complainant in writing of such decision.
Makes inapplicable any statute of limitations against
claims under USERRA.
(Sec. 303) Modifies requirements for annual USERRA case
reporting by the Secretary of Labor to require the
inclusion of: (1) the number of actions initiated by the
Office of Special Counsel before the Merit Systems
Protection Board; (2) data of the National Committee for
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve; and (3) data
concerning those with disabilities. Requires: (1)
quarterly reports to Congress from the Secretary of
Labor, the Special Counsel, and the Attorney General on
their compliance with the deadlines established in the
previous section; and (2) a one-time report from the
Comptroller General assessing the information received
in the quarterly reports.
(Sec. 304) Directs the head of each federal agency to
provide training to its human resources personnel on the
rights, benefits, and obligations of servicemembers
under USERRA, and the agency's application and
administration of USERRA requirements with respect to
(Sec. 305) Requires the Secretary of Labor to report to
Congress an assessment of the employment needs of Native
American veterans living in or on tribal lands, Alaska
Native villages, and Hawaiian home lands.
(Sec. 306) Directs the Secretary to: (1) study measures
to assist and encourage veterans in completing
vocational rehabilitation; and (2) report study results
to the veterans committees.
Subtitle B: Education Matters - (Sec. 311) Extends from
10 to 20 years the time limit for the use of educational
benefits under the VA's survivors' and dependents'
educational assistance program by the spouse of a member
who dies, or is permanently disabled, as the result of a
(Sec. 312) Eliminates the requirement that educational
institutions providing non-accredited courses report to
the VA any credit that was granted by that institution
for a veteran's prior training.
(Sec. 313) Reduces from 10 to 5 days the required
waiting period prior to a veteran student's affirmation
of an enrollment agreement with an institution to pursue
a program of education exclusively by correspondence.
(Sec. 314) Eliminates the requirement that a veteran or
beneficiary make a separate application with hte VA for
a program change at an educational institution.
(Sec. 315) Eliminates a minimum wage-earning requirement
in the case of self-employment on-job training.
Subtitle C: Other Matters - (Sec. 321) Designates the VA
office which supports contracting with small businesses
as the Office of Small Business Programs of the
Department of Veterans Affairs.
Title IV: Court Matters - (Sec. 401) Increases,
as of December 31, 2009, from seven to nine the maximum
number of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for
Veterans Claims (Court). Provides that, as of January 1,
2013, no appointment may be made to the Court that would
result in there being more than nine judges.
(Sec. 402) Directs the Court to prescribe rules to
protect privacy and security concerns relating to all
filing of documents and the public availability of
documents retained by, or filed electronically with, the
(Sec. 403) Repeals the 180-day limit on the number of
days per year a recall-eligible retired Court judge may
voluntarily serve on the Court in a recall status.
Establishes a three-tiered retirement pay structure with
respect to Court judges appointed on or after the date
of enactment of this Act, with tier one representing
retired judges recalled to active service, tier two
representing recall-eligible retired judges, and tier
three representing non-recall-eligible retired judges.
Exempts current and future recall-eligible retired
judges from involuntary recall once they have served an
aggregate of five years of recall service.
(Sec. 404) Requires the Court's chief judge to report
annually to the veterans committees on the Court's
Title V: Insurance Matters - (Sec. 501) Directs
the Secretary to report to the defense and veterans
committees an assessment of the feasibility and
advisability of including severe and acute
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among the
conditions covered by the traumatic injury protection
coverage under Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI).
(Sec. 502) Makes a stillborn child an insurable
dependent under SGLI for veterans and their survivors
(Sec. 503) Extends full-time and family SGLI coverage to
certain members of the Individual Ready Reserve.
Terminates a dependent's SGLI coverage 120 days after a
member's separation or release from service (rather than
120 days after the member's SGLI coverage terminates).
Allows the VA to set premiums for SGLI coverage for the
spouses of members of the Individual Ready Reserve based
on the spouse's age. Forfeits all rights to Veterans'
Group Life Insurance coverage in the case of any
individual: (1) found guilty of mutiny, treason, spying,
or desertion; or (2) who, because of conscientious
objections, refuses to perform military service or wear
a military uniform.
Title VI: Other Matters - (Sec. 601) Authorizes
the Secretary to: (1) suspend or terminate the
collection of debts owed to the United States by
individuals who die while serving on active duty; and
(2) refund to the estate of an individual any debt
previously paid under such circumstances.
(Sec. 602) Extends eligibility for memorial headstones
or markers to deceased remarried surviving spouses of
veterans, whether or not the remarriage ended by death
(Sec. 603) Extends through FY2011 VA authority to obtain
information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and
the Social Security Administration for income
verification purposes for VA needs-based benefits.
(Sec. 604) Amends the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 to
extend through 2012 VA authority to use appropriated
funds to contract with non-VA physicians to perform
veterans' medical disability examinations.
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